Moto3 standings after the Italian Grand Prix:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race in Mugello:
Imagine you find yourself at the start of a 40 minute session of track time, at one of the greatest racing circuits in the world, sat astride one of the most sophisticated racing motorcycles in the world, with the Tuscan sun beating down from clear skies, and the hillsides echoing to the roar of tens of thousands of delirious fans. What would you do?
If you're a Moto3 rider competing at the Italian Grand Prix, then the answer is simple: you sit in your pit box for five minutes, then pootle out into pit lane, spending all your time looking backwards. You are finally persuaded to head out of pit lane over the crest and down towards one of the most challenging corners of the season, so you potter around at a miserable 30 km/h, constantly looking behind you in the hope of finding a faster rider coming up behind you at speed. You repeat this for the full session, interspersed with the odd hot lap.
The situation got so bad that in one of the hospitality units after the day was over, one person came over to us and asked if the Moto3 qualifying session had been red-flagged. They had been working through the session, and had noticed that the track had gone completely quiet. But it was not red flags which stopped the action, it was the desperate search for exactly the right tow. The trouble is, when all 31 Moto3 riders are waiting for a tow, there is no one left to be giving them.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Mugello:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Mugello:
While the fans were heating up like a piece of toast, from both the temperatures and seeing Valentino Rossi on top, the riders were trying on some interesting tyre combinations – from Zarco on his beloved soft front to Marquez, unusually, on the medium and Pedrosa, Rossi and Vinales on the hard.
With all the focus on race pace, it was Rossi who stayed on top up until the very last minute when Zarco blasted past to grab the limelight. Just as the Frenchman took over his lead, Rossi crashed out harmlessly in turn twelve.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Mugello:
As had been trailed since the start of this year, Triumph have finally been announced as the official engine supplier to the Moto2 class from 2019 onwards. The deal with Dorna will see Triumph supply a specially modified version of the 765cc triple which powers their new Street Triple range of production bikes.
The contenders that announced themselves on Friday were still on top on Saturday morning but with some other names than the EG 0,0 duo making the headlines. As the riders focused on race settings, there were very few changes throughout the top ten during the session.
In the cooler conditions, Aleix Espargaro only needed five laps to improve on Dovizioso’s best time from Friday, the Spaniard showing off Aprilia’s new engine on top of the timesheets for most of the session. But the last ten minutes were reserved, as usual, for a final try at top ten glory, which meant the end of Aleix’s reign.
Valentino Rossi was the first to mount a challenge but coming in two hundredths of a second short. The Italian veteran had another go after putting in a brand new rear for the final three minutes - this time the mission was successful, Rossi taking the lead by over three tenths of a second.
A clear blue sky and some fewer degrees were in store for Saturday morning, as the Moto3 class started the proceedings for qualifying day. The conditions meant that many riders took their time before improving on their Friday benchmarks.
Joan Mir’s position at the top of the standings was only challenged briefly by Jorge Martin but a healthy tow every now and again meant that he quickly recovered to top the session by little over a tenth. Nicolo Bulega appears to be a serious challenger this weekend, the Italian finishing the session second, with compatriot and FP1 leader Romano Fenati right in the mix in third.
Riders never really know how badly injured they are until they get on a MotoGP bike and try to ride. That was what happened to Valentino Rossi at Mugello on Friday. He had expected to have a lot of pain breathing from the exertion of hustling a MotoGP machine around Mugello. "This track, Mugello, with a MotoGP bike, with this temperature is already very difficult physically even if you are at 100%," Rossi said.
It turned out that it wasn't the pain from the chest and abdominal injuries which were giving him the most problems in the morning. "This morning, I had a problem with my arm, especially in acceleration. When I open the throttle and I had to hold onto the handlebar with all my strength, I had a lot, a lot of pain," he said.
When you open the throttle on a MotoGP bike, though you push yourself forward on the balls of your feet as hard as you can, you still need to hang on to the handlebars with every ounce of your strength. The battering Rossi's body took in the motocross crash just over a week ago took its toll, and made him suffer. "Sincerely, I didn't expect this, maybe I expected something else."