Valentino Rossi will be looking to extend his lead at the top of the MotoGP standings on home soil, as Round 6 of the 2015 campaign takes us to Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix.
The veteran Yamaha rider has enjoyed a blistering beginning to the season, enjoying podium finishes in all five races so far, including victories in Argentina and Qatar. At this juncture, the Italian’s closest rival is team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who has finished first in the last two races.
Here’s a closer look at what the riders can expect from the Italian circuit, the men set to shine on race day and all the details you need on where to catch the action live.
|Italian Grand Prix Schedule|
|Friday, May 29||8:55 a.m||Free Practice 1|
|Friday, May 29||1:05 p.m.||Free Practice 2|
|Saturday, May 30||8:55 a.m.||Free Practice 3|
|Saturday, May 30||12:30 p.m.||Free Practice 4|
|Saturday, May 30||1:10 p.m.||Qualifying 1|
|Saturday, May 30||1:35 p.m.||Qualifying 2|
|Sunday, May 31||1 p.m.||Race|
|MotoGP Driver Standings|
All sessions are live on BT Sport and can be streamed through Watch BT Sport (UK).
The Italian Grand Prix is one of the most intriguing on the calendar. The circuit is situated in Scarperia and is a 3.259-mile lap.
As we can see here, we were treated to an enthralling race last season, as reigning world champion Marc Marquez edged out Lorenzo by just 0.121 seconds:
Indeed, Mugello is tailored for high-octane racing, with a lot of high-speed corners and a sizeable straight ideal for plotting overtakes. Precision is also absolutely critical, especially through the opening corners, where the track is very compact.
Rossi Set for Mugello Adulation
The seven-time MotoGP winner has been back to his very best this season and holds a 15-point lead over Lorenzo at the top of the standings.
A thrilling win at the season opener in Qatar, when Rossi managed to edge out Andrea Dovizioso, seems to have rejuvenated the 36-year-old and heading into this race weekend, he’s been practically flawless.
As noted by Motorsport broadcaster Toby Moody, the Italian has given us so many highlights down the years:
Heading to the Tuscany track, Rossi will be desperate to put on a show in front of a raucous home crowd. Given this is the first time the Tavullia-born star will come to Mugello leading the world championship since 2008—a season in which he won his sixth of seven MotoGP titles—expect an extra edge from the home support.
The man most likely to challenge Rossi is set to be Lorenzo. After a tough beginning to the campaign, the Spaniard has won in style at Le Mans and Jerez; he’s also picked up victories in Italy in three of the last four seasons.
Alpinestars probably sum up his recent displays perfectly; the 28-year-old has been “sublime”:
Both Yamaha riders will also be readied for a reaction from the reigning world champion. Up to now, it’s been a difficult beginning to the season for Marquez, and after coasting to the title last season on the back of 10 consecutive wins from the first round, the Repsol Honda man will be aware he’s going to have to scrap hard to retain his crown.
Marquez is expecting his team to bounce back in style in Italy this weekend, however, per MotoGP.com:
We are very motivated after the weekend in Le Mans and arrive in Italy in good shape. We must work hard from Friday to find a good setup as Mugello is a complicated circuit, however, I like it and have good memories from my first victory in 2010.
We know Valentino will be very strong at his home race, Jorge and Dani have a good history there and Ducati were testing there just a few weeks ago, so we will have to be focused all weekend.
At this juncture, Honda aren’t quite ready to challenge the might of Yamaha, as was evident by Marquez’s fourth-place finish at the previous round in France. The Japanese team have introduced a new swing arm which should help them cope better with a technical Mugello circuit, but at this juncture third spot is the best Marquez is likely to muster.
It’d be the romantics’ dream to see Rossi, who has failed to win his home Grand Prix since 2008, take the chequered flag. But Lorenzo loves this circuit, and given his imperious recent form, expect the Spaniard to close the gap at the top with another peerless performance.