Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Mugello:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Mugello:
The hottest session yet in Mugello offered a good opportunity to put in some serious laps on the preferred race option, which appeared to be the hard front and medium rear tyre combination. Unless you’re Marc Marquez - which is a phrase often used. The hard front was both a popular option given the track conditions and the cause of a handful of crashes as the riders were getting up to speed.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Mugello:
The final practice session of the intermediate class was a mixed affair when it came to the main contenders in the class. While Joan Mir and teammate Alex Marquez were trading blows at the top of the timesheets early on, Pecco Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira were struggling to even threaten the top ten.
Things were warming up nicely both literally and metaphorically in the premier class’ final roulette ride for a Q2 ticket, especially with a few high profile names lingering back down the order after Friday’s adventures. One of those men was Andrea Dovizioso, who was on the move from the off, cautiously placing himself into the top ten on the combined standings only four laps in. Meanwhile, Friday leader Andrea Iannone was exceedingly impressive on a used combination of medium front and soft rear and led most of the session with a time half a second slower than his Friday benchmark.
The curtain of fog lifted just in time for the lightweight class to open the show on Saturday morning but it was a lukewarm performance on a cold track. Most of the usual actors were at the front but the pace didn’t get too hot until the final two minutes. Aron Canet set the tone at the start of the session but ultimately and unavoidably, it was Jorge Martin who once again put his name in the headline.
Mugello is many things: majestic, magical, magnificent. Beautifully set, with a natural flow unmatched almost anywhere else. It was made to host the fastest, most powerful motorcycles in the world, giving them room to stretch their legs and challenging the rider's skill and bravery, and the bike's handling, horsepower, and braking.
Unfortunately, this challenge is what makes Mugello so dangerous. During the afternoon session, Andrea Dovizioso hit 356 km/h on the Ducati Desmosedici GP18. Shortly after, his engine spewed a huge cloud of smoke at the end of the straight, causing the red flag to come out. A little while previously, the session had also been red flagged, after a huge, vicious crash by Michele Pirro just over the crest at the end of the straight, the fastest and most dangerous part of the track.
It made for some harrowing moments at Mugello. The track fell silent, a pall descending on pit lane as the teams feared the worst. Having learned their lesson at previous tragedies, Dorna were not showing either the crash or the rider on the ground. The mood only lifted when word reached us that Pirro was conscious, and moving his arms and legs. MotoGP dodged a bullet on Friday. But there are still rounds in the chamber.
The sun was finally fully out for the last session of the day and Mattia Pasini was the one who shone first, the Italian sorting out his bike setup troubles from FP1 to dominate the early part of FP2. It wasn’t to last as the final two minutes were a flurry of red and orange sectors. Friday’s winner ended up being Joan Mir, the Spaniard presumably in a hurry to get to MotoGP and going a tenth faster than Sam Lowes.
The cloudy afternoon in Mugello got more gloomy shortly after the start of the session, the red flag coming out for a heavy crash for Michelle Pirro in turn one. The Italian was said to be conscious and moving by the time he was picked up by an ambulance and the session was restarted with 28 minutes on the clock and with Andrea Iannone leading. The Suzuki man manged to sneak in a lap to improve his time at the top of the timesheets before another red flag was caused by another Ducati.
Mugello was warming up nicely for the second run of sessions of the day, although the clouds did keep the lightweight class company. Fabio Di Giannantonio was back with a vengeance, at least for the early part of FP2, the Italian leading for most of the session before Jorge Martin’s reputation as the fastest man in class came to the fore and the Spaniard checked out at the front by over three tenths of a second to improve his own pole record.
The intermediate class danced their first tango of the weekend in Mugello and it brought nothing new to the routine. Alex Marquez established himself as the early leader and came under friendly(ish) fire in the final time attack from teammate Joan Mir. The younger Marquez came out on top, ending the session with a three tenths advantage on his pursuers.
Friday morning in Mugello saw the splendid scenery covered by a sheet of low clouds, although the track kept dry for the duration of the session. The low grip took a few people by surprise and plenty of front tyres were tortured but the top of the timesheets were a very patriotic display. Local expert Michelle Pirro perhaps unsurprisingly led the way after the first run and the Italian was unchallenged at the top until compatriot Andrea Iannone brandished a new rear soft tyre and blasted ahead by half a second.
A cloudy but warm morning set the scene for the opening session of the weekend but the plot was more of what we’ve gotten accustomed to. Namely, Jorge Martin setting camp at the top of the timesheets early in the session, then going on to improve on his own benchmark in a final attack. Things got a little more unusual behind the Spaniard – if not in names, it did in time gaps.
Usually we have to wait until Friday for the action to hot up at Mugello, but there was an almost hysterical vibe at the Italian circuit on Thursday. We appear to have entered what can only be described as peak Silly Season, with the rumblings of a series of rider and bike changes likely to explode into the public consciousness between now and Barcelona. By the time the MotoGP test finishes on the Monday after Barcelona, we should know where Andrea Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo, and Joan Mir are riding, and have a solid clue as to what Franco Morbidelli, Dani Pedrosa, Danilo Petrucci, and Jack Miller will be doing in 2019. It's going to be hectic.
All this is adding to what is already an incredibly stressful weekend, especially if you are an Italian rider. The paddock is already buzzing with sponsors, friends, family, and fans, so you can imagine what it will be like when the action starts in earnest on Friday, let alone the madness of race day. How do the riders cope with it? "Just let the seconds pass away from here to Sunday at 2pm," Danilo Petrucci said. The Pramac Ducati rider took a podium in Mugello last year, and has been even more competitive in 2018. He is in the hot seat to replace Jorge Lorenzo in the factory team, if the Spaniard leaves as many expect he will.
But he will not be letting the high expectations get to him. "I will do my normal things and try to do my best that’s the best I can do. If you stop and think about it I have nothing to change compared to other races as at Le Mans the situation was more or less the same. I am talking about the future, wanted to confirm my speed from last year. At Mugello I have a friendly paddock but it is not as I said it is not a big advantage. We will work in the way worked in Le Mans, controlling every detail, and they we’ll see. The podium is a target but we’ll discover it on Sunday afternoon because it is very difficult to predict the race in MotoGP in the space of two years. I can only go as fast as I can."