The 2017 Italian Grand Prix proved to be a classic with home riders taking the win in all three classes and Andrea Dovizioso taking the ultimate accolade by becoming the first Italian rider to win the Italian Grand Prix on an Italian bike.
The day opened up with the Moto3 riders serving up an absolutely stunning 20-lapper that saw all 15 points scorers separated by just a second and a half at the chequered flag. In the end, it was Andrea Migno, riding for Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy team, who took his first win, ahead of fellow countryman Fabio Di Giannantonio.
Moto2 was an equally emotional affair, with Mattia Pasini taking his first race win after seven years in the class. The 31-year-old, who burst onto the 125cc scene as a teenager, has suffered with an arm injury throughout his career which means that he has struggled to manage the extra weight of the bigger Moto2 machines. The disability means that he controls both the clutch and front brake with his left hand. In a thrilling three-way battle for the win, Pasini crossed the line less than a tenth of a second ahead of Swiss rider Thomas Luthi, with Spain’s Alex Marquez in close attendance. Pasini’s Mugello success was the first time the rider has finished on a Grand Prix podium since 2009. The emotional Italian dedicated his win to his friend and former rival, Marco Simoncelli, who finished second to Pasini when he took his last victory, the 2009 250cc Italian Grand Prix.
With two Italian winners out of two, expectations were high for home favourite Valentino Rossi in the main event. The 38-year-old legend was right up at the sharp end throughout the race, but it was countryman Dovizioso who was the surprise pace setter, with another Italian Ducati rider, Danilo Petrucci, making it double joy for the Bologna factory with a third placed finish.
Dovizioso had proved consistently strong throughout practice on the fast Desmosedici, despite being affected by a stomach bug. From the lights, it was Rossi who led the way from Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales and the Ducatis of Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.
Vinales took over the lead on lap four, with Lorenzo slipping back and Petrucci moving into the top four. The Italian run as high as second, behind Dovizioso, in the latter stages of the 23-lap race but championship leader Vinales recovered to finish just over a second behind ‘Dovi’ at the flag, with Petrucci a further second back to take the final podium place.
Rossi, who had been hospitalised in a motocross accident in the week running up to the Grand Prix, came home in fourth, but the high speed Mugello track proved troublesome for the Honda riders. World champion Marc Marquez was the top Honda rider, in sixth, but suffered the ignominy of being passed and led home by the private Ducati of Alvaro Bautista. The Honda riders have struggled since Michelin changed the specification of the front tyres supplied to the teams and their disappointment was compounded when Dani Pedrosa skittled Cal Crutchlow in a battle for 11th on the last lap.
Crutchlow’s blame free crash topped off a tough day for the British MotoGP riders. Scott Redding was the only Brit in the points, in 12th, while Sam Lowes and Bradley Smith were the last two finishers in 19th and 20th.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Dovizioso said: “It was a fantastic day for me but it had started badly after a sleepless night because I had a bit of food poisoning. Today I didn’t have much energy, but I knew that the bike was going to be strong, because we had worked well throughout the weekend and I also had a lot of support from my fans, physiotherapist and family and this made a big difference. Despite the fact that I wasn’t at 100%, I was able to administer the race even though I wasn’t the quickest man out there, but I did a perfect strategy, and I moved into the right position at the right moment. I rode really smoothly, I never forced the pace excessively and this made all the difference because Mugello is a track that physically wears you out and in any case the tyres did not allow me to push too hard. Finally we did it: winning at Mugello is really something special!”
The results in Italy sees Vinales retain his championship lead, on 105 points, with Dovizioso moving into second on 79. Rossi is a further four points behind, with the Repsol Hondas of Pedrosa and Marquez tied on 68 points, in fourth.
The series continues next weekend with round six of 18 at the Circuit de Catalunya, on the outskirts of Barcelona.