Five time world champion Jorge Lorenzo broke his Ducati duck with a masterful lights to flag victory at today’s Italian MotoGP race in Mugello, with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso making it a momentous one-two for the Bologna manufacturer.
Expectations for the home fans were high when local demi-god Valentino Rossi qualified in pole position, but when the lights went out it was Lorenzo who hit the front from second on the grid. The Spaniard would make no mistakes and, unlike in previous races where he faded after a strong start, was never headed for what he considered one of the best wins of his career. After almost a year and a half of trying, the Spaniard finally won his first Grand Prix on the Desmosedici, just as speculation of his impending departure from the team went into overdrive.
“I am very happy,” he exclaimed. “Yesterday I said that winning at Mugello with Ducati was a dream for me and today this dream came true. It’s one of the most special wins of my entire career, probably on the same level as my first win in 125 in 2003 and in MotoGP in 2008. I’m really thrilled about it and pleased for the team, because it was fantastic to score this victory on Ducati’s home track after a very challenging weekend. This morning I realized that we could do it and, even though I was worried about the performance of the tyres, I decided to push right from the start, in my usual style, and everything went perfectly. I couldn’t ask for anything more and we will have to celebrate this win in a big way. I haven’t managed to win a race for a long time and I did it my way. I’ve been through some difficult moments but I’ve always believed I could do it, I could see that every time we were closer and closer and in the end we did it!”
Behind Lorenzo, Dovizioso struggled to maintain the pace of his team-mate after making a decision to run the harder compound front tyre in the warmer conditions. An early crash from championship leader Marc Marquez saw Dovi too riding a lonely race, although he was able to hold off a late charge from Rossi. Like his fellow Italian, The Doctor chose the harder front tyre but while Dovizioso was disappointed with second, Rossi was delighted to stand on the podium in third.
“It was a very tough race because we had to start with the harder front tyre, which we knew wouldn‘t provide a lot of grip, so the race was very difficult. I tried not to make any mistakes, which was hard, and I also tried not to lose contact with the podium contenders. In my group the guys were riding on the softer tyre, so I hoped I would have a little bit more grip than them at the end. In fact, it was exactly like this, so I‘m very happy, because the podium was the target for me. It remained difficult to secure it until the very last lap, because Iannone didn‘t give up, but at the end it‘s a great feeling here in Mugello.”
Coventry rider Cal Crutchlow also put in a late charge to finish sixth and win a number of unofficial battles. The 32-year-old was top Brit, top independent rider and top Honda, on a track that didn’t appear to favour the RC213V. “Today was a more positive result than we expected given the situation with the front grip of the bike,” he said. “It was really difficult for me to pass. At one stage in the race I thought there was potential for a podium, but trying to overtake would have been a massive risk because of the front of the bike. Overall we managed the situation very well, whereas some other didn’t. Now we look forward to Barcelona. The team did a good job this weekend, we managed to come away with a top-six result at Mugello so we have to be pleased.”
Of the other Brits, Bradley Smith scored two points for 14thbut Scott Redding was an innocent victim of a first lap pileup. In the championship, Marquez saw his lead cut to 23 points over the consistent Rossi ahead of the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona, which take place in two weeks’ time.