The MotoGP calendar returns to Mugello this weekend, where Marc Marquez comes back to the scene of last year's 175-miles-per-hour practice crash that forced him to retire before the action had even begun.
That tragedy ended the Spaniard's podium streak with which he begun his maiden season at the Grand Prix level, and he will feel as much cause to better his performance this time around with a sense of vengeance in tow.
However, the current standings leader won't be the only rider worth keeping your eye on in Italy, and you can find all the race times and details listed below, along with a preview of which stars are expected to pose a challenge on the top places.
|2014 MotoGP Grand Prix of Italy Schedule|
|Free Practice 3||8:55 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. BST/3:55 a.m. - 4:40 a.m. ET||May 31||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Free Practice 4||12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m. BST/7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m. ET||May 31||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Qualifying 1||1:10 p.m. - 1:25 p.m. BST/8:10 a.m. - 8:25 a.m. ET||May 31||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Qualifying 2||1:35 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. BST/8:35 a.m. - 8:50 a.m. ET||May 31||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Race||1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET||June 1||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
Riders to Watch Out For
All eyes will be on Valentino Rossi this weekend as the 35-year-old returns to his native Italy with the intention of impressing the home audience.
In his pre-race comments, per the official MotoGP website, Rossi said that it's "a matter of honour" to ensure he prevails in Mugello:
I am very happy to go to Mugello. This is a beautiful track and I like it so much. There are always 25 points as the other races, but Mugello is a matter of honour. Jorge (Lorenzo) has won the last three years on the Yamaha, doing fantastic races, and this means that the M1 is very competitive on this track.”
It will be my 300th GP this weekend and for that I am not very happy because it means that I'm old! But I'm happy because I am in good shape and I can still be very fast.
Very fast, he certainly can be. Rossi remains capable of teaching his peers a lesson or two about speed, but it will admittedly require some help from his rivals as The Doctor goes in search of an eighth career triumph at the Italian Grand Prix.
Having won the last three Italian Grand Prix races in a row, Jorge Lorenzo is looking to put together an impressive run of his own on Sunday, despite claiming only one podium place so far this season.
The Yamaha representative finished sixth in the French Grand Prix last time out, and speaking to the official MotoGP website, he gave the impression that he's eager to put that result behind him and focus on what's to come:
"Well, first of all I would like to forget what happened at Le Mans. There I couldn’t feel good on the bike and therefore we need to think about the future. I will never give up and continue working really hard to get ready when our moment comes."
MotoGP commentator Michal Fialkowski reports on Lorenzo's future, too, stating that he's likely to remain with Yamaha:
Lorenzo's recent history in Mugello could channel something that we've yet to really see him produce this season, but there's a field of competitors around him with just as much reason to succeed.
It seems unlikely that there will be a race this year where Marquez isn't one of the riders worth keeping an eye on, provided the youngster is participating.
And Italy is no different this Sunday, where Marquez is hoping to extend his own personal record of first-place finishes to six in succession, having failed to place any lower in any of this campaign's stages.
However, the 21-year-old isn't getting ahead of himself and highlighted veteran Rossi as a particular threat to his streak, per Autosport:
"OK, in these five races I've had the top level but at Mugello Valentino will be 22 years old again. Valentino will be so strong there because it's his home circuit. He will be so hard to beat and he will push a lot."
Marquez will be going up against Rossi with the home crowd rooting for their seasoned hero to prevail against the leader's incredible run of form, and that in itself may be enough to conjure the very best out of Rossi on the straights of the Mugello track.
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