The announcement of circuit contract extensions have been coming at regular intervals over the past few months. The latest in the batch were press releases detailing the extension of the Mugello circuit's contract with Dorna for another 5 years, ensuring that the Italian Grand Prix will be run at the spectacular Tuscan circuit, and a press release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcing the completion of the work to repave Indy's road course, the infield section that comprises most of the layout used by MotoGP when it visits the IMS facility for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the end of August.
The Mugello extension came very much as expected: the track is a huge favorite with the fans, riders and teams, its fast, flowing layout making it a challenge and a thrill to ride. It is also very popular with sponsors: in the heart of Tuscany - or "nestling in the Tuscan hills" as every press release previewing the event appears obliged to describe it - and just an hour north of the Renaissance splendor of Florence, it makes an ideal destination for taking sponsors for a spot of pampering, in an attempt to loosen up their wallets. It was almost inconceivable that Mugello would disappear from the calendar.
What a difference a track makes. At the fast, flowing Mugello circuit, we had three pretty interesting races, two tense duels and a full on battle in Moto2. After a season full of races decided in the first few laps, to see a race day full of overtaking brought some much-needed relief to those suffering with the racing bug.
The 125cc race only saw two passes for the lead, Johann Zarco passing Nico Terol, and then Terol taking the Frenchman back to take victory, but the two protagonists maintained the tension all the way to the end. Never separated by more than a couple of tenths, the race became a case of two men trying to pressure the other into a mistake. Fresh back from having a tendon reattached in his little finger, Terol was the first to crack, running wide in San Donato, the wide, uphill hairpin that comes at the end of the straight. But Terol kept his head, latched onto the back of the Zarco, and waited for the long drag towards the finish line to make his move.
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams at Mugello:
The text of the press release from the FIM, confirming their intention to race in Japan, if the situation remains unchanged:
Japan: statement from FIM President Vito Ippolito
Over the last couple of weeks, the FIM has been further monitoring the situation in Japan and after consulting with several international organisations, the FIM President Vito Ippolito issued the following statement: "In the present circumstances and with the elements on our hands, including reassuring statements from various governments concerning travel restrictions, I cannot but reaffirm what was said in the previous press release. Furthermore, the FIM is awaiting for the results of a report conducted by an independent European agency on the conditions prevailing in Motegi that will be released later this month. Together with our partners and stakeholders we will continue to monitor the situation very closely to make sure that the safety and health of everyone involved is guaranteed at all times, which is an absolute priority for the FIM."
2011 FIM World Championships scheduled in Japan: QTEL FIM Endurance World Championship (Suzuka - 30 & 31 July); SPEA FIM Trial World Championship (Motegi – 20 & 21 August); FIM World Championship Grand Prix (Motegi - 02 October).
Results and summary of the 125cc race at Mugello:
Results of the 125cc qualifying practice:
Nico Terol has returned to the 125cc class after injury exactly as he left it: utterly dominant. The Bankia Aspar rider ended the final session of free practice with an advantage of more than a second over Johann Zarco, while the Frenchman was nearly seven tenths quicker than Efren Vazquez. Vazquez just squeaked ahead of Sandro Cortese, while Sergio Gadea and Jonas Folger followed in 5th and 6th respectively.
Press releases from the Moto2 and 125cc teams after the first day of practice at Mugello:
Dark clouds are hovering over the Mugello circuit, and drizzle has started to fall, adding yet another wet weekend to the MotoGP calendar. The light rain that fell saw the 125cc riders treating the Italian circuit with great caution, conditions neither full wet nor fully dry. Sergio Gadea ended the session on top of the timesheets, setting a time half a second quicker than Sandro Cortese, while Danny Webb put the Mahindra into 3rd.
Nico Terol is back on track after missing Assen with an injury, and his repaired little finger has not slowed the Bankia Aspar rider one iota. Terol once again dominated the first practice of the 125cc class, ending the session nearly nine tenths faster than Johann Zarco. The Frenchman was in turn a tenth quicker than Efren Vazquez, while Sandro Cortese took the 4th spot two tenths slower than Vazquez. British rider Danny Kent put in a strong performance to set the 5th fastest time, but Kent was 1.7 seconds off the pace of Terol.