ROUND 6: ITALY (MUGELLO)
There’s nowhere like italy, and no race like the Italian GP. With it’s inimitable atmosphere, passionate (sometimes too much) fans and one of the most enjoyable and fascinating track of the calendar, the Italian GP is on everybody’s bucket list.
1. Lorenzo il magnifico
After weeks of speculation regarding his future ans possible retirement, it’s a determined and confident Jorge Lorenzo who arrived at the track on thursday.
Insisting that he has absolutely no intention of retiring, the mallorcan made his point clear in QP where he lost the pole position to Valentino Rossi in the very last minutes.
Second on the grid, sure of himself and in what he believed he could achieved, Lorenzo fired his desmosedici from the starting grid onto the main straight like a bullet out of a gun. He took the lead in the first corner to never gave it back until the finish line.
It’s a classic and masterclass win that Lorenzo delieved on Sunday. He, the man so many love to hate and never believed in, won on a Ducati, in italy in front of all of Ducati’s bosses and ducatisti. Lorenzo’s clear joy, emotions and enthusiasm were not only a blessing to witness but also a proof how just how hard the last year and a half has been for him.
In « caliente » the spaniard stated winning on the Ducati was the best day of his life. The pride and joy of annexing the « Red Stands » with his famous Lorenzo Land flag was obvious but sadden by the fact this story will not continue in the coming years.
2. A win and.. what’s next ?
Behind closed doors, Lorenzo who felt like Ducati were not interested a bit about his case nor had any love left for him, has been maneuvering with his management team, Dorna and Lin Jarvis to prepare a team in which he could get his hands a Yamaha M1, much like his arch nemesis Valentino Rossi did after his red debacle.
Ducati, who is said to have signed Danilo Petrucci just hours before Lorenzo’s win, found themselves in a very curious position indeed.
There’s no denying Dovizioso’s progress through the years, but one can only wonder if he’ll ever really be title’s material. A combo Dovi/Petrucci will sure win races, but it misses that little sparkles, that little something that transform a chance of title into a proper title.
It’s that sparkle they wanted when they signed Lorenzo and that’s that little extra something he could give them if only they were giving him time. At the end of the day, that’s the main problem: after only a year on the bike they asked Jorge Lorenzo to do what their new favorite needed 5 years to do. Can Ducati found a way to convince Lorenzo to stay ? Do Dovizioso and Petrucci have a real chance to get a world championship against Marc Marquez ? Is it too late to keep Lorenzo ? Judging by the mallorcan’s own words after the race, it is: “One side of my heart is sad. I am very happy with this victory but one
side of me is sad because I believe if I had this modification before I
could tell you that I would stay with Ducati but the pieces arrived too
late and the next two years I will be with another bike.”
Ducati’s faillure to keep the spaniard could well end up into a gift offered to Yamaha: a team which desperately need some Lorenzo’s magic again judging by their current form.
3. Some smiles, some don’t
It was a mix of content and frustrated faces you could found at Yamaha on sunday evening.
First, Valentino Rossi, the man all of italy consider as the personification of Jesus on Earth, not only took the pole position on Saturday (his 65th) but he also made it to the podium in 3rd place after one hell of a fight with Petrucci, Rins and Iannone.
The italian, genuinely happy for his old teammate’s win, was on cloud 9 to be back on the podium at the Mugello: « all the training and suffering is worth it for these 10 minutes on the podium ». Awww Our Hearts, Vale !
Less vocal but critical nonetheless, Rossi believed they still could play a part in this year’s championship and urges Yamaha to solves their recurent problems which are the reason behind their lack of win since Assen 2017.
On the other side of the box, Maverick Vinales was way more angry, vocal and frustrated than his famous teammate.
He stated after the race: « Yamaha promised me that i’d win, not fight with satelite Ducatis (…) they have a rider to fight for the championship, but they need to give me the tools for that». OUCH !
Since his last win at the 2017’s french GP, Vinales has been doing the « yo-yo » to the point where, in the very same weekend he can go from being nowhere in to be seen in FPs to 3rd on the grid to barely taking a top 10 in the race.
One can only wonder WHY did both sides of this equation agreed to continue together as early as they did before the season started. (A question we ask ourselves non stop since the annoucement).
4. Marquez couldn’t save it while Pedrosa needs saving
Marc Marquez, King of saves and gravel trap’s favorite Gardener, crashed out of the Italian GP, rejoining the race to finish only outside the top 15, getting absolutely no points, except maybe ours for his determination to try always and forever, but then again, these do not count at the end of the year.
On hard tires, the spaniard made a gamble which would lead him to fall visibly forcing too much on his front to match Lorenzo’s early race pace. While losing 25 or less points might make him frustrated and unhappy of his weekend, it’s the fans’ reaction which infuriated him on sunday evening: “To celebrate the crash of a rider is sad because we are taking risks on
the track. I don’t know if many people ‘celebrated’ my crash today but,
well, it is curious that they celebrate a crash of a rider more than a
victory of another. It is a curious thing about bike racing.”
Used to boos and cheers when he goes down since 2015 and his famous clash with Rossi, Marc insisted he hoped his fans will never act like that, in any circumstances: “I said before in 2015 and in 2016 that I hope they support the racing as
much as me and respect all the riders. This is the most important.”
Marc couldn’t save his crash but it’s Pedrosa’s situation which becomes worrying for next season. The spaniard has been very quiet about his future. Only a few rumors of a 1 year deal he would have refused coming from Honda have escaped from the paddock (then again, is it even true ?). At the end of the day, it might not be Captain Lorenzo who needs saving from Carmelo Ezpeleta but Soldier Pedrosa.
Rumor has it, Honda, after trying to get Dovi, Mir and Zarco without success, tried to buy Jack Miller back home from his current multiple years Ducati deal. It might be very different from the inside, but looking at it from the outside, we cannot help but think Alberto Puig and the HRC are keen and giving the ride alongside Marc Marquez to ANYONE BUT Dani Pedrosa.
As seats for next season are almost all taken now, it’s becoming a reality that Pedrosa, if nothing happens that could save his current place, could very well be heading home in 2019. This end of Dani’s MotoGP chapter would be unacceptable, not only to his many fans, but to the rest of the MotoGP paddock. A rider should never be forced to retirement, especially not one with Pedrosa’s palmares.
Now i do not know where we have to sign or whom we have to threaten but, if he is without a ride, just give him the M1 on that satelite/petrona team they are building, alongside Lorenzo or not.
5. Honorable mentions
Andrea Iannone was on fire the whole weekend showing a form that could have made a title contender has he only be consisten the rest of the time. He’ll leave Suzuki at the end of the year, surely to get an Aprilia next season.
Zarco was nowhere to be seen this weekend after his missed opportunity in France.
Alex Rins was back where he belongs, fighting for top positions.
Danilo Petrucci couldn’t stop whining about Marquez’ pass on him in the early race and we couldn’t care less because, well, he should remember he does the same pretty much all the time.
Cal Crutchlow was a tuff one this weekend, still suffering from his huge crash last time out.