Great tracks produce great racing, even in the MotoGP class, where the combination of fuel limits, extremely advanced electronics and stiff Bridgestone tires mean that the way to win races is by being absolutely inch-perfect on every lap. And Mugello is a great track, there is no doubt of that, despite the fact that the usual Mugello atmosphere had been muted by a combination of a dismal Italian economy and sky-high ticket prices at the circuit, the only way for the circuit to recoup some of the sanctioning fee it must pay Dorna to run the race.
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The rider lineup in Moto2 continues to be fluid. Immediately after the Mugello Moto2 race, the Mapfre Aspar team issued a press release, announcing that Toni Elias would be leaving the team with immediate effect. The parting was agreed by mutual consent, the Aspar team disappointed with the results they have achieved with the 2010 Moto2 World Champion, while Elias has struggled to get to grips with the Suter chassis since he returned to Moto2 at the start of the year. A switch of chassis was not an option, so Elias and the team decided to separate.
Mugello is a special place, and a special race. One of the things that makes it so special is the atmosphere, the massed crowds that arrive on Thursday and Friday, and party noisily until Sunday night, filling the Tuscan skies with the sound of fireworks, engines being held against their limiters, popping exhausts, and very, very loud Italian pop music (or as was the case on Saturday night as we left the track, Jingle Bells composed entirely of fart noises).
Johann Zarco has been handed a grid position penalty for his crash with Pol Espargaro during FP3 at Mugello on Saturday morning. The incident saw Zarco enter the San Donato corner far too fast trying to overtake a group of riders on the inside. The Frenchman lost the front and crashed, wiping Espargaro out in the process. Zarco will be relegated 15 places on the starting grid for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The penalty moves Zarco from 3rd on the grid down to 18th.
Below is the official FIM press release announcing the penalty:
"I don't really want to look at the timesheet," Cal Crutchlow said at the end of the first day of practice at Mugello, "because Lorenzo's run was an absolute joke." Crutchlow is well-known for his colorful language - in every sense of that phrase - and his words are easy to misinterpret. But a glance at the consistency of Lorenzo's times soon makes you understand exactly what Crutchlow meant. On the hard rear tire, Lorenzo was running mid to low 1'48s, with many laps within a few hundredths of each other.
It's a good job we are here in Mugello. Normally, at the end of three back-to-back race weekends, riders, team members and journalists are all just about ready to strangle each other - some paddock insiders have colorful tales of intra-team punch-ups which they will tell if plied with a few drinks - but this is Mugello, the one weekend each season which everybody looks forward to. There is something very special about the setting, the track, the weather, the location which mellows everyone out.
Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa are to test a brand new version of the Honda RC213V at Mugello. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto told the media on Thursday that both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner will have one machine each to use at the MotoGP test scheduled to take place on Monday, after the Italian Grand Prix.
Bridgestone is to bring four extra rear tires to Mugello. After the problems at Assen, where several riders suffered chunking and severe tire degradation, MotoGP's sole tire supplier announced that they would be building a special tire with a stiffer construction for Mugello, to cope with the potent combination of high speed and very high temperatures that prevail at the Italian circuit. The four rear tires will be additional to the original allocation of ten rear tires allowed under the rules.
HRC has today confirmed news that has been expected for several weeks now. Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez have both signed up to race in the Repsol Honda team for the next two seasons, 2013 and 2014. Both riders are long-time proteges of the Spanish petroleum giant Repsol, so the combination of Marquez and Pedrosa in the factory team was the logical choice. Once the Rookie Rule had been removed - at the request of the Honda satellite teams, for whom Marquez would have caused problems with crew members and sponsors - Marquez' move into the factory Honda team was inevitable.
At Mugello, a large number of pieces in MotoGP's Silly Season for 2013 are expected to fall into place. The long-expected announcement of the Repsol Honda team will be made on Thursday, according to Catalunya Radio, with Marc Marquez taking his place alongside Dani Pedrosa, who has inked a two-year extension with HRC. Pedrosa acknowledged at the Sachsenring that there were only details left to clear up, and after winning Germany, the Spaniard appears to have cleared the final hurdles to a new deal.
There was one glaring omission from the post-Sachsenring round up I wrote on Sunday night. Well, two actually, but the biggest was that I neglected to give Dani Pedrosa the attention he deserved for a fantastic win, his first in over nine months. Pedrosa managed the race brilliantly, starting on a bike which had seen massive changes ahead of the race, and which he took a few laps to get accustomed to. He did so by dropping behind Stoner, and following in the wake of the reigning World Champion, until he was comfortable enough to make a pass.
Bold and fearless or brash and ill-advised? There was a lot of that sort of thing at the Sachsenring on Sunday, in all three classes. The most obvious example begging that question was what would have been Casey Stoner's last-corner lunge past Dani Pedrosa, had it not gone horribly wrong as he lined the pass up the corner before. We'll come to that later, but with a Moto3 race run in drying conditions and a Moto2 race where one of the favorites had to start from well down on the grid, there were plenty more to choose from.
It poured at the Sachsenring on Saturday afternoon. It absolutely hosed down, rivulets of water running across the track to make the conditions treacherous. Ideal conditions for Ducati, you would say, given their form so far this year in the wet, with Valentino Rossi on the podium in the downpour at Le Mans, and a 1-2 during the first session of free practice at a drenched Silverstone. But Nicky Hayden is 7th and Valentino Rossi 9th, a second or more off the pace of polesitter Casey Stoner. What went wrong?
The tire problems experienced by Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies at Assen, where great chunks of rubber came off the right side of the rear of the tire, slowing Spies up severely and affecting Rossi so badly he was forced to pit for a new tire, have been the subject of much speculation and discussion since the event.
Silly Season has hit full swing in Germany, not just for the MotoGP class but for the support classes as well. And while movements in MotoGP are mainly about what is happening next year, in Moto2 and Moto3 - and even among the CRT machines - there is some serious rider swapping going on for the rest of this season.