Dani Pedrosa rode a start-to-finish victory at Mugello on Sunday as he took his maiden win of the 2010 campaign at the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM.
The Spaniard, who had only converted three of his previous fourteen premier-class pole positions into wins prior to this race, never looked like relinquishing the lead he held from turn one of the opening lap as he crossed the finish line 4.014 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
The whole of MotoGP had been rocked on Saturday by the crash of Valentino Rossi, which left the World Champion in a Florence hospital recovering from an operation to his broken right shin. However the Mugello crowd responded, with over 76,000 fans packing the hillsides, many draped in yellow and offering support to their hero Rossi.
Sporting a t-shirt on the podium in the famous yellow colour of his stricken teammate, world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was unable to take advantage of his rival’s absence. The Fiat Yamaha rider was forced to settle for second place having been unable to replicate his impressive practice pace, however he still extended his lead at the top of the standings.
Undoubtedly Lorenzo will be disappointed, unable to keep tabs on Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa, whose lead had stretched to 7.309s at the mid-point of the race. Behind Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso were more closely matched, and neither was able to close down the gap to the eventual winner.
Pedrosa’s win became more secure as the final laps counted down, and it was left to Lorenzo and Dovizioso to decide the remaining podium spots. The Fiat Yamaha rider opened up a slender advantage that he did not surrender for the remainder of the race. An emotional Dovizioso could console himself with giving the home crowd a podium to cheer in Rossi’s absence.
Much further back positions four to six remained open as Marco Melandri, Randy de Puniet and Casey Stoner exchanged blows, with Ben Spies not out of the chase either. Stoner eventually pushed his struggling Ducati to the limit to claim fourth as he beat Melandri and de Puniet in a last-lap dash.
Spies finished seventh in his first race at the circuit, with another rookie impressing in the shape of Aleix Espargaró who took eighth. Simoncelli had recovered from an early mistake in time to take ninth, with Loris Capirossi tenth.
Lorenzo now has 90 points at the top of the championship, with Pedrosa second on 65. The absent Rossi is third on 61 with his return date unknown, whilst Dovizioso’s podium takes him to 58 in fourth.
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) won the Moto2 race by a comfortable margin, delighting the home crowd as the battle for positions two to six provided a riveting contest. Sergio Gadea eventually took second place, drafting past Simone Corsi on the run to the line, for his first rostrum in 2010. Corsi just made it as the second Italian on the podium as he rose from 26th on the grid to take third place with an incredible ride.
Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi was just 15-thousandths further back in fourth, with Championship leader Toni Elías taking fifth. Shoya Tomizawa made a late break to steal second from in amongst the fiercely contested chasing group, but his error on the penultimate lap meant he was forced to settle for sixth. The top ten was completed by Gabor Talmacsi, Yuki Takahashi, Julián Simón and Alex Debón.
Elías remains at the top of the championship standings with 74 points, with Tomizawa staying in second on 55 and Corsi in third on 51. Gadea sits fourth on 46, whilst Iannone’s win lifts him to fifth, level on 38 points with Lüthi.
Marc Márquez took his first world championship win in a tight 125cc race that went all the way to the wire, leading an all-Spanish podium, which was completed by Nico Terol and Pol Espargaró.
A four-way battle for the lead came about after an early break by Terol and Espargaro, with Marquez joined by Briton Bradley Smith in the chase for the lead duo. After pole holder Sandro Cortese crashed on the opening lap, the front quartet broke away in a breathless fight as the lead changed hands regularly before the end of the race.
Into a thrilling 20th and final lap, Márquez led the pack and ultimately managed to hold his slender advantage to cross the line ahead of Terol and Espargaró with Smith cruelly missing the podium in fourth. Remarkably just 0.161 seconds separated the four.
Efrén Vázquez, Randy Krummenacher, Esteve Rabat and Tomoyoshi Koyama completed the top eight, with British rider Danny Webb placing tenth.
Terol remains at the top of the standings after the race with 85 points, six ahead of Espargaró and Márquez moves to third on 57.
MOTOGP QUOTE CENTRAL:
Dani Pedrosa: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to win again and I’m so happy for myself and the Repsol Honda Team. We’ve been working really hard and we had some problems through the winter and in the first races, so I’m really delighted with this victory, especially after leading at Jerez for so long but not quite making it. It looks like we are back near where we need to be and the team deserves the victory. I had a great feeling on the bike today, especially at the beginning section of the race and I could open up a gap. To be honest I didn’t see who was behind me, I just looked for the gap on my pit board and tried to ride consistently. It’s important that we are competitive now because we have one weekend off and then three races in a row. The next race is at Silverstone which is a legendary track so I hope that we can match this kind of performance there – and also that this part of England has better weather! I’d like to thank the team again for this result. And I also want to thank the fans here for pushing for Valentino because he’s having a hard time and everyone in the paddock wishes him well.”
Andrea Dovizioso: “It’s so special to be on the podium at Mugello in front of my home crowd because I’ve never made the podium in MotoGP here – I always had to watch it on the TV in the garage! It was a really emotional experience up there with all the fans supporting us. I made a good start and this was really important for my race. I wanted to finish the race fighting with Lorenzo because I think it could have been a good battle on the last lap, but I couldn’t catch him. We are getting closer to the front but we are not quite there yet and we have to take the next step so that we can fight for victories. Three podium finishes is a good start to the season and is very important for the championship, and it’s thanks to the hard work we’ve done over the winter and in the first races. I’d like to say congratulations to Dani on the win because he had an incredible pace, and this is an extra motivation for us to take that extra step forward so we can fight for the win.”
Marco Melandri: “We’ve struggled more at Mugello than we did in France but after the warm-up this morning I knew I was in better shape and I’m happy to have been able to produce a race like that. I honestly didn’t think I’d be battling with Stoner and De Puniet today because I thought they would both have a higher pace than me but we did a great job. I got a fantastic start and other than losing a little time behind Hayden my pace was good. I want to thank the team, who have suffered in silence all weekend, and this result shows that in future we can never lose faith in our possibilities in a race, even when things don’t go our way in practice. Now the target is to improve during practice and make sure we’re in even better shape to race.”
Randy de Puniet: “A top six finish was my target for this race but I am a bit upset because I could have got fourth position. After the start I pushed hard because in the middle of the first lap I was only 12th and wanted to recover some positions. On second lap I crossed the line in eighth and starting a close battle with Melandri and Stoner throughout the race. I tried to take some advantage but it was impossible so I did my best to keep my fourth place. In the last two laps my bike started to shake on the exit of the final turn and I lost a lot of drive so Casey and Marco overtook me. We are still sixth in the classification which is good for me and the Team.”
Marco Simoncelli: “If it wasn’t for the mistake on the first lap I would have been right up there today. I was behind Hayden when he passed Espargaro but I couldn’t quite make it through – there wasn’t enough space and I miscalculated it. We touched and I ran off the track. Thankfully I stayed upright in the gravel and got back on the track. My pace wasn’t as good as yesterday but there were other riders with more problems than me. I gritted my teeth and slowly but surely the guys in front of me got closer. I never gave up and on the last few laps I got past them – I’m delighted. I have finished one place higher than Le Mans but the important thing for us today is that if it wasn’t for a stupid mistake I would have been running with Melandri, De Puniet and Stoner competing for fourth place. ”
Hiroshi Aoyama: “The race was not easy for me. I had a quite good start and was able to go with the group for some laps, but then I didn’t have grip anymore and I could not keep my lap times. It was so hot today and that is exhausting. Many riders crashed. But this time I didn’t make any mistakes in the race. I just hope that next time I can have a better race.”
Jorge Lorenzo: “Unfortunately my pace today wasn’t as good as yesterday and I could only finish second; something happened and I couldn’t ride in the same way but in the circumstances I am happy with my result. Anyway Dani had a perfect race today; he had an amazing pace and I don’t know if I could have beaten him even if I had been as fast as yesterday! To take 90 points from 100 is great and I am leading the championship, so I cannot ask for more. I need to make some improvements to my riding style and Yamaha needs to try to improve the power of the bike a bit so we have some things to work on, but I am confident about the next weeks. It was very strange today without Valentino, I am so glad the fans honoured him so well. I wanted to win to dedicate the victory to him but that wasn’t possible so all I can do is say ‘get well soon!'”
Ben Spies: “The goal was top ten, so to be eighth I’m pretty happy with, especially leaving here with solid points after the disappointment of the last two races. I got a great start and felt like I rode as hard as I could and didn’t make too many mistakes but I just couldn’t quite get up close to the battle in front of me and that was a little frustrating. I found myself right on the tail of that pack with Randy, Marco and Casey but I wasn’t going to be able to pass them on the straight. I just tried to stay as close as I could for as long as I could in case something happened with them but everybody kept it upright. I was just hoping that the pack was going to break open and I could pick one of them off but they stayed together. It was a good race and what I needed to build my confidence and experience and now I’m looking forward to Silverstone. That’s a level playing field with nobody knowing the track, so I’ll have less of a disadvantage.”
Colin Edwards: “I’m really disappointed and a bit mystified because I’ve felt good all weekend and we got the bike working really well again after we switched back to the setting we had at Mugello last year. But it was a struggle from the off and I didn’t feel great at all. The bike was working well. It goes round the corner good, it brakes good and has good traction but I can’t ride in that condition. I felt fatigued really early in the race and was really struggling to change direction with the bike. And at this track you have got a l ot of fast changes of direction that are crucial to help you flow and set good times. I’ve had a bit of an arm pump issue all weekend for the first time in my career and needed quite a few injections to ease that. But I was way below my best physical condition and not just because of that. All I can do is apologise to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and I wish I knew what was going on. I’ll try and figure it out and be ready to come out fighting strong in Silverstone.”
Casey Stoner: “To be honest we expected to be a little bit better after this morning’s warm-up but maybe the conditions were a little too hot for the changes we made and the tyre we ran in the race. The left side of the tyre was working really well but I just couldn’t get the right side hooked up and I was running wide, losing the front a bit, but I managed to stay on. Once I got ahead of Marco and Randy in the early stages of the race I was pushing to get away but couldn’t so I decided to sit back and attack them on the last lap. I suppose in that respect I got the job done bit it’s not exactly what I would have liked for this race because it’s a track I like and it’s Ducati’s home race.”
Nicky Hayden: “I screwed the start up and got beat up into turn one but I was able to make a couple of passes and thought I could fight for it. My rhythm wasn’t that good and I was just trying to make up too much time into that downhill corner. It was a rider error and it’s a bummer because it’s the team’s home race and they’ve all worked really hard. All I can say is I’m sorry – that one was on me. I’m completely okay so that’s the good thing but it still hurts. Thankfully there are still a lot of races to go.”
Loris Capirossi: “This race is less of a disaster that the last two because I didn’t finish them, but I am really annoyed because we just never found the best solution. Today we started with a setting from warm-up but I just never had a feeling in the front and every time I changed direction I thought I was going to lose it. I nearly crashed a couple of times and had to go a bit slower to make sure I didn’t – I don’t want to be racing like that! The whole team works so hard to find the right solution, but unfortunately we’re not finding what we seek. The engine has improved a lot from last year, but we have something in the chassis or settings that is not working well, so we need to quickly discover what that is and fix it.”
Álvaro Bautista: “My left arm feels like it is destroyed, but we managed to do what our target was today and that was to finish the race, so that is a small victory for us. On the first lap I tried to ride and change direction quickly, but the first time I felt so much pain I couldn’t keep in touch with any other riders or manage to follow them. I tried to get a good rhythm that I was comfortable with and finish the race. Towards the end I got a feeling that was ok and although I felt much pain all over, I was able to get to the line and get more experience and complete more kilometres. I will now make sure I get close to full recovery for the next GP, it is the Team’s home race and I want to do very well there!”
Aleix Espargarò: “I am delighted to have reach the eighth position today. After Le Mans Grand Prix I gained more confidence in my potential and I want to try to improve every race so that I can reduce the gap from the best riders. I like so much to be in the front positions, and I’ll do my best to try to improve even more in the next Gran Prix. I’ve had since Friday a great rhythm on this track, I knew I have to give my best to get a good result in my Team’s home track. I had a good start and I was in the sixth position after the first turn. Unfortunately in the first lap I had a contact with Simoncelli and this made me lose some positions, but I held up my concentration acquiring a good rhythm. I lost a couple of positions, overtaken by Capirossi and Edwards, but from the thirteenth lap I conquered back a couple of position and led the group that was fighting for eighth place until the end. This is a great result for me. I’m now looking forward for the next race to try to improve my position. I’m very happy on how this season is now going. Too bad for the races in Qatar and Jerez where I got just one point. I hope that Mika will return to fight soon for the top positions as he has all the qualities to do it.”
Mika Kallio: “What can I say, this hasn’t been the best weekend for me. The pain I felt in my shoulder and some technical problems I encountered yesterday morning didn’t allowed me to get a good position on the grid. We solved some problems this morning during warm up and I found a considerable improvement in the handling of the bike. I started very well, I immediately gained three positions in few laps and I was very close to the group that was fighting for eighth place. Unfortunately, in turn ten I closed too much my steering and I felt off the bike. I wanted to give my best on this track because it is the Pramac Racing Team home circuit. I will work hard to prove my value in the coming races.”