Oakley Grand Prix of Italy 2017

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Nick Harris


There is only one place to be on Sunday – The Oakley Grand Prix of Italy at the Autodromo Mugello high in the rolling Tuscan hills above the magnificent City of Florence. One hundred thousand patriotic fans packing the hillsides producing a cacophony of noise and passion that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand rigid. It’s an atmosphere and venue that is what MotoGP™ is all about. Four British MotoGP warriors step into the amphitheatre on Sunday for round six of the MotoGP World Championship around the undulating 3.259 mile circuit that follows the contours of those green wooded hills.
Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow got back to points scoring ways with a hard fought fifth place at the previous round in Le Mans. The LCR Honda rider is seventh in the championship and has one podium finish at Mugello but has also suffered too many crashes there.
Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding is a Mugello Moto2™ winner and pole setter but slipped to 12th in the championship after retiring at Le Mans with gear shift problems after qualifying in an impressive seventh.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith is another Mugello winner and pole setter. He won the 2009 125cc race from pole and has an excellent Mugello record. In 2011 he was third in the Moto2 race and has also fifth and seventh MotoGP finishes. He picked up more world championship points at Le Mans finishing 13th in Red Bull KTM’s fifth grand prix.
Lincolnshire's Sam Lowes also arrives into the cauldron with some confidence. He has been on Moto2 pole for the last two years and finished third in the race last year. He picked up his first ever MotoGP points on the Gresini Aprilia in Le Mans and has just completed a successful test with the team in Barcelona.
Former Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent returns to the Moto2 Championship after a brief return to Moto3 in Le Mans. The Wiltshire-based rider replaces the injured Iker Lecuona on the Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex. Twenty-one-year-old Tarran Mackenzie makes just his second grand prix appearance after a fall on his debut from the Kiefer Racing Suter ruined an impressive debut in Le Mans.
Twenty-two-year-old Scotsman John McPhee slipped to fifth in the Moto3™ World Championship after finishing 12th at Le Mans. The British Talent Team Honda rider will be looking to improve his qualifying to give him a proper chance of repeating those two second places in the opening two rounds.

Did you know?
• This is the 32st occasion that a GP has been held at the Mugello circuit, including twenty seven times in the consecutive years from 1991.
• The first time that Mugello hosted a grand prix event was in 1976.  The 500cc race was won by Barry Sheene by the narrow margin of 0.1 sec from Phil Read, in a race lasting over 62 minutes. This was at a time when Suzuki riders dominated the premier-class; the first non-Suzuki rider home was Waerum Borge Nielsen in tenth place riding a Yamaha.
• The layout of the Mugello circuit has remained basically the same since 1976 with the official track length of 5.245km remaining unchanged.
• Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer in the four-stroke MotoGP era at Mugello with a total of ten wins; five successive victories with Valentino Rossi in the years 2004 through to 2008, in addition to the wins with Lorenzo in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
• Honda have had four wins in the MotoGP class at Mugello: Valentino Rossi in 2002 and 2003, Dani Pedrosa in 2010, and Marc Marquez in 2014.
• Since Casey Stoner gave Ducati their the single victory at the Mugello in 2009, Andrea Iannone is the only rider to finish on the podium riding for the Italian manufacturer, with second place in 2015 and third last year.
• The best results for Suzuki in the MotoGP era is 5th, which was achieved by John Hopkins in 2007 and Loris Capirossi in 2009.
• Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider across all the classes at Mugello, with a total of nine victories; one each in 125cc and 250cc classes to add to his seven successive MotoGP wins (2 x Honda + 5 x Yamaha), the last of which came in 2008.
• Loris Capirossi is the only Italian rider other than Rossi to win in the premier-class at Mugello, the 500cc race in 2000 after a race long battle with his countrymen Biaggi and Rossi, both of whom crashed in the closing stages.
• The MotoGP race at Mugello in 2004 is the shortest ever premier-class grand prix race. The race lasted just six laps, after the first attempt to run the race was stopped due to rain and then restarted for the remaining laps under the rain rules as they stood at that time.
• Italy, together with The Netherlands and Great Britain are the only three countries that have hosted a motorcycle grand prix event in each year since the motorcycling world championship series started in 1949.
• Spanish riders have won the MotoGP race at Mugello for the last seven years. The last non-Spanish rider to win in the MotoGP class at Mugello was Casey Stoner in 2009.
• The MotoGP race victories at Mugello in the fifteen years since it was introduced as the premier-class of Grand Prix racing are shared by just five riders: Valentino Rossi (7 wins), Jorge Lorenzo (5 wins); Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez all having a single win at Mugello.
• The winning margin for Jorge Lorenzo over Marc Marquez at Mugello last year was just 0.019 seconds, making it the seventh closest finish of all-time in the premier-class of grand prix racing.
• Last year at Mugello just 0.077 seconds covered the first five riders across the line in the Moto3 race, making it the closest grand prix top five of all-time.
• All five riders who have won in the Moto2 class at Mugello are now competing in the MotoGP class: Andrea Iannone (2010 & 2012), Marc Marquez (2011), Scott Redding (2013), Tito Rabat (2014 & 2015) and Johann Zarco (2016).
• The Moto3 race at Mugello this year will be the 100th Grand Prix race for solo motorcycles to be held at the Mugello circuit.

Magic Mugello seeks repeat showing
Last year just 0.019s split Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marc Marquez while just 0.077s covered the first five Moto3 riders when they flashed across the finishing line in the Grand Prix of Italy at the magnificent 3.529 miles Autodromo del Mugello – there is absolutely no reason it will not be the same on Sunday.
The time has arrived among the Tuscan hills for two riders with superb records at Mugello to press the repeat button and none more so than Italian local hero Valentino Rossi. The Movistar Yamaha rider dropped to third place in the Championship when he crashed duelling with team-mate and championship leader Maverick Vinales, on the last lap at the previous round in Le Mans. The 38-year-old has won nine times in front of his adoring fans including seven MotoGP™ victories but that last win came in 2008.
Jorge Lorenzo has won five MotoGP races at Mugello, including that epic battle with Marquez last year, and he returns with the support of the patriotic crowd for the very first time making his Italian racing Ducati debut. He was a disappointing sixth in Le Mans after problems in qualifying, after finishing on the Jerez podium two weeks earlier. He will fancy another podium in the 23 lap race on Sunday.
Twenty-two-year-old Vinales arrives with a swagger after his third win of the season gives him a 17 point advantage over the in-form Dani Pedrosa. Vinales is a Moto3™ winner and finished sixth at Mugello last year. Fellow Spanish rider Pedrosa arrives with a similar swagger after three successive podium finishes including a Jerez win on the Repsol Honda. His team-mate World Champion Marc Marquez was another Le Mans faller and slipped to fourth, 27 points behind Vinales and just three points ahead of rookie sensation Johann Zarco. Both Pedrosa and Marquez are Mugello MotoGP winners.
The Frenchman Zarco, who won the Moto2™ race last year, faces just his sixth MotoGP race on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha with a confidence which is reflected by his start in the premier class culminating in his second place in his home grand prix at Le Mans. There is no reason why he can’t be challenging for a second successive podium finish on Sunday. Just one point behind him is Andrea Dovizioso who will unleash the power of the GP17 Ducati on the one kilometre start and finish straight.
Other Italians to check out include Danilo Petrucci on the Octo Pramac Ducati and former Mugello pole setter Andrea Iannone who’s having such a wretched time on his Ecstar Suzuki debut. Zarco’s team-mate Jonas Folger has given Tech3 an amazing start to the season and is ninth while Australian Jack Miller defies all pain barriers in tenth place on the Marc VDS Honda.
Normal service was resumed in the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes at the previous round in Le Mans. Franco Morbidelli got back to winning ways with his fourth Moto2 win of the season. He returns home on the EG 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex with a 20 point lead in the championship over Tom Luthi who has Mugello podium finishes in both 125cc and Moto2. The only other Moto2 race winner this year is Morbidelli team-mate Alex Marquez who moved into third place after a brave fourth in Le Mans following a big crash in practice. The man to watch on Sunday is Italian Francesco Bagnaia who has finished second on the Sky Italia VR46 Kalex at the last two grands prix.
Spanish teenager Joan Mir grabbed his third Moto3™ win of the season in the chaotic Le Mans race. The Leopard Racing Honda rider leads the championship by an impressive 34 points over Romano Fenati, who crashed out in Le Mans, with the impressive Aron Canet in third place pushing Jorge Martin and John McPhee back to fourth and fifth respectively.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 2nd June 8.00am – 15.00pm
Saturday 3rd June 8.00am – 15.15pm
Sunday 4th June 7.30am – 15.00pm

Channel 5 Highlights
Tuesday 6th June 19.00pm

Live commentary of the race on Sunday

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