Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo made a stunning return to form today, taking second place in the Gran Premio d’Italia after an epic battle with rival Marc Marquez.
Teammate Valentino Rossi made good on a challenging 10th position grid start to take a well deserved third place podium finish for his 300th Grand Prix appearance.
The drama started before the first corner for Lorenzo as the riders bunched over the crest off the start line. He was quick to recover and fought his way through the first turn to close down and pass Andrea Iannone for the lead.
Having secured the front Lorenzo then proved he was back on form, delivering lap after lap of perfect lines with Marquez in pursuit. Even with less than 0.3 of a second between them it wasn’t until the last seven laps that Marquez was able to make a move. An incredible Spanish duel then began with the two trading places numerous times, Lorenzo always able to answer any attack from Marquez with a response of his own. The two took it to the wire, Marquez entering the last straight slightly ahead and able to hold it to the line, leaving Jorge in second, just 0.121seconds behind.
Home hero Rossi was not to be daunted by a 10th place grid position on his 300th Grand Prix start. The nine-time world champion had taken three positions by the first corner and was up into fifth place by the second lap. He made short work of dispatching Andrea Dovizioso for fourth and then with 20 laps to go passed Iannone to move up into third. By this time Lorenzo and Marquez were too far in front to catch however he remained less than three seconds behind them, hinting at what could have been with a better grid start. He completed the podium in third to the roar of the bumper Mugello crowd, just 2.688 seconds from Marquez.
Lorenzo’s stunning performance takes 20 points and moves him up into fourth in the championship standings on 65 points, 31 behind Dani Pedrosa in third.
Rossi’s impressive comeback from tenth to the podium earns him 16 points and moves him up into second place in the championship standings, 53 behind Marquez.
Pol Espargaro today delivered another impressive performance at the legendary Mugello circuit in Tuscany by riding to a well calculated and expertly executed 5th position for round 6 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship. The reigning Moto2 World champion began the challenge from 5th place on the grid and found himself in the leading group, maintaining the same position for the opening laps. As he set into his increasingly confident race pace, the Spaniard kept fighting with vastly more experienced riders such as Andrea Dovisioso and Dani Pedrosa. Honda rider Pedrosa eventually overtook Espargaro, before the rookie remained calm and seized 5th position back by passing Andrea Iannone on lap 18. He then put his head down and put in a series of consistent lap times to ensure that the chasing Dovisioso could not threaten him. Espargaro’s determined efforts saw him cross the line as the leading satellite rider and only a second and a half back from Dani Pedrosa’s 4th position. The 22-year-old’s 5th place at Mugello elevates him to 6th position in the point standings and sees him as leading non-factory MotoGP rider so far in the 2014 Championship.
Bradley Smith’s weekend full of promise ended prematurely with an unfortunate crash during the second lap of the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM Grand Prix at Mugello. Having made strides forward during the qualifying and free practice sessions with the Yamaha YZR-M1 that he is increasingly confident with, Smith pulled off a positive qualifying performance of 7th. Here he was in prime contention to confidently battle for the top five and upwards. Yet, after starting the Grand Prix and ending the first lap in 9th Smith’s luck ran out and he fell, drawing a disappointing end to an otherwise highly positive weekend. The 23 year old will head to Catalunya next week where he will intend to amend his lack of fortune at Mugello with a high scoring finish.
The NGM Forward Racing Team closed once again as first open on the fast and demanding Mugello track. It was not an easy race for Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards who finished respectively in 9th and 15th positions. With this result, Aleix maintains the seventh position in the championship with 44 points, while Forward is 4th in the Constructor classification after the three Manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha and Ducati).
Starting from the 4th row, lap by lap Aleix Espargaro recovered some positions and despite struggling during the whole race with the traction control, he succeeded to maintain his position and finish 9th.
It was a tough race also for team mate Colin Edwards, who despite the electronics problems finished the race in 15th position.
“I’m happy, I could be more happy if I had won but I tried my best. Probably in the last corner I should have stayed more in the inside to try to overtake him on the inside line but I made a mistake and went wider and it was impossible to overtake him on the straight. When I feel physically strong and the bike has a small improvement I can be there and fight with him. We have some margin, some physical condition to improve for me and the bike can make another step so we will get better. I’ve worked really hard to be more physically fit and the team also worked very hard this weekend to give me a great bike, so thank you to them.”
“Today was a great day for all the people and for MotoGP. Mugello is one of the greatest race tracks in the world; a lot of people around and the race was very funny with a great battle between Jorge and Marc. I wasn’t too far from them and all the people were happy for my podium. It is a great emotion as always, it was a solid race from fourth row to third. I think I had the chance to battle with them but unfortunately we made a mistake yesterday in practice but we will try in Barcelona again. The podium in Mugello is always fantastic, it's the most special moment of the season, it’s like a great concert. It's a great party for MotoGP and motorcycling because the passion in Italy is amazing. This is my 300th GP, so I’m in the middle of my career, another 300 before the end!”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It was an amazing race; it was great to see Jorge lead from early on and then fight in such an amazing way at the end. He has proved he is back both physically and mentally. He never gave up and he really did everything he could. We finished second but with the same feeling as if a victory. Now we are going to Barcelona, where it looks like it’s going to be another interesting race. Vale rode a really good race. We had some troubles over the weekend and we made it harder for ourselves. Starting from the fourth row he knew he had to push strongly from the beginning and he did so, quickly getting up into third and holding it to the end to take his podium and move up to second in the championship. It has been a good weekend overall for our first home race, I want to thank all the team for their hard work to achieve the results of today. We leave here impressed with the performance of both our riders and looking forward to another strong battle in Barcelona in two weeks time.”
“Obviously I have to be really happy with today’s result. We managed to finish ‘best of the rest’ just behind the four factory bikes which is a great achievement. I struggled a lot to pass the Ducati of Iannone so unfortunately Dani was already too far ahead and even if I tried to catch him I could not close the gap completely. But I think altogether we really have to be proud of the work done so far, especially considering how the weekend went with two crashes and one session less due to the weather on Friday. The team did a great job and I really want to thank them as we were able to repeat the result from Le Mans. Now we will head full of confidence to my home race in Catalunya where I will give it my all to be even closer to the front than today.”
"I would love to have something more to say, but I think it was just a case of having the wrong tyre. I was using the hard compound in the front that we had previously ran in FP3 and which made me crash after doing a mistake at the last corner. Therefore, the initial feedback was not that great and I much preferred the soft option but as the track conditions were quite hot today we were recommended the use to the hard tyre like everyone else, so we followed the suggestion. Unfortunately though I’m not used to that tyre on this track and also, I felt like it didn’t work with my riding style. The front tucked at the Arrabbiata 1 which was turn 8 but in all honesty there wasn’t much I could do about it. It’s very frustrating as I had the race pace to get a really good result but from the first lap I could feel that things weren't going to plan. Now we will wait for Barcelona where I am confident that everything will improve.”
“It was a difficult race. We struggled the whole weekend with the electronics control and today in particular I had a problem with the traction control. I couldn’t push and control the bike as I wanted so I tried to maintain the calm and get the best possible result. We will keep on working and I hope that we can make a step forward for the next race in Catalunya, my home GP.”
“The good point was actually that we did finish the race after having struggled with fuel problems from the beginning of the season. I’m satisfied for this, but we need to keep on working with the electronics because today we struggled a lot with the traction control and the bike was sliding a lot. Anyway this weekend we did a complete test with the new chassis. Now we will look at the data and we will keep on working at Montmelo.”