TIM Grand Prix of Italy 2016

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Nick Harris


Mugello magic to banish Le Mans blues
With every blade of grass on the surrounding hillsides packed with passionate and noisy fans this is one of Italy’s great sporting events of the year and the British riders are determined to soak it up and deliver. Both Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith crashed out of Le Mans after encouraging qualifying and practice performances. Both have found the opening five races tough with Crutchlow looking to bring some success to his LCR Honda team after crashing four times. Oxfordshire-based Smith has crashed twice from the Monster Tech3 Yamaha including Le Mans where he was running in seventh place. Smith won the 2009 125cc race at Mugello and Crutchlow was third in the MotoGP™ race three years ago. That same year Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding won the Moto2™ race and like the other two has encountered a difficult start to his debut season with the Octo Pramac Ducati team with crashes and mechanic problems. The shining light has been Irishman Eugene Laverty who’s finished every race in the points including two top ten finishes on the Aspar Ducati. It’s been a magnificent second MotoGP season for the former World Superbike star and he faces just his second premier class ride at Mugello with great confidence.

The Moto2™ race is a big one for Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes and his Italian – based Federal Oil Gresini team. The 25 year old lost his lead in the World Championship by a slender five points to Le Mans winner Alex Rins. Just two weeks after winning in Jerez it was a case of damage limitation for Lowes in France where he finished sixth. Last year he finished an impressive fourth on his Mugello debut. Last year Wiltshire-based Danny Kent was second in the Moto3™ race but has found life tough on his return to the Moto2 class and needs some points scoring finishes to boost his confidence. The same can be said for 21 year old Scotsman John McPhee in the Moto3 class. It’s been hard on the Mahindra powered Peugeot MC Saxoprint machine for the Racing Steps Foundation –supported rider but there are signs that a change of fortune is imminent.

Stop Press
Dani Pedrosa has signed a new two year deal with the Repsol Honda team.

Did you know?
•This is the 31st occasion that a GP has been held at the Mugello circuit, including twenty six 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 nine 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 and 2015. 

• 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.

•Andrea Iannone’s second place finish last year was the first podium finish at Mugello for Ducati since Stoner gave them the single victory at the circuit in 2009.

•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.

• Andrea Iannone qualified on pole last year at Mugello – his first pole in the MotoGP class.  This was the first time that an Italian rider on an Italian bike had qualified on pole for a premier-class grand prix in Italy since Giacomo Agostini was on pole for the 500cc GP at Imola in 1972.

• Last year at Mugello, Danny Kent was on pole in the Moto3 class and Sam Lowes in Moto2 - the first time that Britain have had riders on pole in two of the classes since the Swedish GP at Anderstorp in 1977 when Barry Sheene was on pole in the 500cc class on a Suzuki and Mick Grant was on pole in the 250cc class on a Kawasaki.

Grand Prix racing numbers
124 – Jorge Lorenzo’s win at Le Mans was the 124th victory for Spanish riders in the premier-class of grand prix racing, the same number of premier-class wins that Australian riders have achieved.

100 – At the Italian Grand Prix Aleix Espargaro is scheduled to make his 100th start in the MotoGP class.

99 – Jorge Lorenzo’s win at the French GP was the 99th victory for Yamaha in the four-stroke MotoGP class. The breakdown of wins by riders: Valentino Rossi – 54, Jorge Lorenzo – 42, Max Biaggi – 2, Ben Spies – 1.

15 years 330 days – The age difference between second place finisher at Le Mans, Valentino Rossi, and third place finisher Maverick Viñales. This is the largest age difference between two riders standing together on a premier-class podium since 22 year old John Newbold finished second in the 1975 Belgium GP and 40 year old Jack Findlay finished third.

10.654 seconds – Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line at Le Mans 10.654 seconds ahead of second place finisher Valentino Rossi, which is Lorenzo’s largest margin of victory in a dry MotoGP race.

10 – The rider starting on pole has not won in the Moto3 class for the last ten races. The last time a rider starting a Moto3 race from pole won the race was Enea Bastianini at Misano last year.

8 – The rider starting from pole position has won the last eight MotoGP races, the longest sequence of race wins from pole position in the MotoGP era.

7 years – Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have taken the top two places at the last two MotoGP races. This is the first time that the factory Yamaha have taken the top two places in MotoGP at back-to-back races for seven years – since the Catalan GP and Dutch TT in 2009.

The hills are alive with the sound of Vale
The Tuscan hills around the magnificent Autodromo del Mugello will be pouring out passion, noise and absolute support in equal large quantities when Valentino Rossi returns home to compete in front of his adoring fans at the TIM Grand Prix of Italy. The number-one sportsman in Italy will receive massive patriotic support in his fight for his tenth world championship when he takes on team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and bitter rival Marc Marquez on home soil.

Lorenzo arrives leading the MotoGP™ championship following five eventful rounds after winning the previous round in Le Mans and finishing second behind his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Rossi in Jerez. They are separated by 12 points while sandwiched between them is the Repsol Honda of Marquez, just five points behind Lorenzo. All three have crashed out of one race this season and have a good record at the Mugello circuit. Rossi won seven consecutive premier class races between 2002/2008; Lorenzo has won four times in the last five years while Marquez was successful in 2014.

It’s also a home race for Ducati who’ve experienced a really tough start to what promised to be a great season. A repeat of last year, when Andrea Iannone took pole position for the Bologna – based factory and finished on the podium, would be a great tonic. Dani Pedrosa makes his 250th grand prix appearance chasing a repeat of his win six years ago for Honda while 21 year old Maverick Vinales hopes for a repeat of his Le Mans result where he took his first MotoGP podium for the Ecstar Suzuki team. Just two points behind him in the Championship in sixth place is Pol Espargaro on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha who in turn leads his older brother Aleix by a further five points.

Alex Rins took the lead in the Moto2™ Championship after his Le Mans win but it’s tight. Just five points separate him and Jerez winner Sam Lowes who in turn leads Tom Luthi by 13 points. World Champion, Frenchman Johann Zarco, is struggling in fourth 31 points down on leader Rins.

South African Brad Binder arrives with an impressive 24 point lead after winning the last two Moto3™ rounds on the Ajo Red Bull KTM. Second placed Jorge Navarro has been consistent but needs that first grand prix to enhance a championship challenge. It’s a massive race for the bevy of impressive Italian youngsters including Romano Fenati, Nicolo Bulega, Niccolo Antonelli and Francesco Bagnaia.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 20th May 08.00am – 15.00pm (practice)
Saturday 21st May 08.15am – 15.15pm (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 22nd May 07.30am – 15.00pm (warm-up and races)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 23rd May 21.00pm – 22.00pm

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