More Mugello MotoGP Previews: The Return Of Kurtis Roberts, And High Hopes For Italian Homeboys

More Mugello MotoGP Previews: The Return Of Kurtis Roberts, And High Hopes For Italian Homeboys

© 2007, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Gran Premio d'Italia Alice.

Atmospheric Mugello awaits MotoGP for Gran Premio d’Italia Alice

Gran Premio d’Italia Alice – Monday 28th May Race preview MotoGP

The first third of the 2007 MotoGP season will conclude on Sunday 3rd of June at Mugello, with the sixth race of the year, the Gran Premio d’Italia Alice. The race is renowned for its classic action and some of the most fervent fans in the world, and on the basis of what has been seen at the opening five races the latest visit to Italy should be no exception.

The tremendous competitiveness of the riders on their new 800cc bikes mean that anyone is in with a chance of taking victory at Mugello. A number of riders achieved their best ever results at the rain-soaked previous round at Le Mans, including first time race winner Chris Vermeulen, Pramac d’Antin’s Alex Hofmann and 2007 rookie Sylvain Guintoli, who led a MotoGP race for the very first time at his home circuit.

The championship standings have Casey Stoner on top of the pile riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP7. The Australian has been as exciting as ever this season, with the added bonus of a consistency and maturity that was perhaps lacking last year. The 21 year old has rarely had to push his bike to the limit in order to make up places in 2007, having led more laps than any other rider, and can only improve as the season goes on. He has won three of the opening five races, and has only been off the podium on one solitary occasion.

Stoner leads the way by 21 points from Valentino Rossi, the five-time MotoGP World Champion. Rossi is on home soil at Mugello, and with a point to prove after being outwitted by Stoner in Shanghai and experiencing tyre problems in the wet at Le Mans. The Italian has always been a big game performer, and has won the last five races at Mugello in varying conditions. He is also assured of the vocal support of the Italian fans, who have a specially dedicated grandstand at the circuit from which to cheer on their idol.

Dani Pedrosa lies in third in the classification, forty points behind former 250cc rival Stoner and 19 behind Rossi. The 2006 Rookie of the Year has eleven points less on the board than last year, and is currently on his longest ever winless streak since his first 125cc victory in 2002. With both himself and Honda chasing a first 800cc win, Pedrosa could be a dangerous challenger to the top two at Mugello.

Second place in France has kickstarted Marco Melandri’s 2007 campaign, with the Italian showing himself to be a master of the flag-to-flag wet race. Melandri is always in with a chance of victory when on top form, and knows Mugello very well indeed. A consistent run of podium finishes could bring him right back into the thick of the title battle, although a few problems that he has been experiencing with the Honda RC212V will have to be resolved before Melandri is fully at ease on the 800cc bike.

Chris Vermeulen’s victory at Le Mans signalled his first victory in MotoGP, and is the pinnacle of Rizla Suzuki’s achievements since their setup was changed under Team Manager Paul Denning. The GSV-R is proving to be a highly competitive bike, further illustrated by sixth placed rider John Hopkins, who has come of age this season with his first MotoGP podium.

Olivier Jacque is expected to return for Kawasaki at Mugello, having been forced to sit out the race in France due to an arm injury. Another rider making his return, after a long absence from MotoGP action, is Kurtis Roberts, included on the entry list riding for his father’s Team Roberts outfit alongside brother Kenny. The team hope that Kurtis’ inclusion will help them further develop the struggling KR212V.

The Gran Premio d’Italia Alice takes place on Sunday June 3rd, with practice for the race kicking off on the preceding Friday.

250cc Grand Prix

Jorge Lorenzo continues to lead the 250cc World Championship, 32 points ahead of his nearest rival as he looks to defend his title. The Spaniard has just one solitary blotch on his record in 2007 the Grand Prix of Turkey- where he took second on the grid and in the race. Apart from his visit to Istanbul, Lorenzo has been top dog at every race so far this season, winning from pole and putting his flag in the ground to signify his conquering of four circuits on the quarter litre calendar.

Andrea Dovizioso is the only rider to have impeded Lorenzo’s progress this season, and is a consistent podium finisher. Normally this would be enough for him to keep touch with the series leader, but Lorenzo has been simply outstanding this year. The Kopron Team Scot rider will be hoping to close the gap with a win at his home circuit, which is sure to be an epic battle between this season’s talented 250cc field. Alex de Angelis and Alvaro Bautista, the third and fourth placed riders, have also provided more than their fair share of excitement battling for victory, with Hector Barbera and Julian Simon completing the top six in the standings.

125cc Grand Prix

The 125cc class has seen no rider take charge so far this year, with a different rider on the top step of the podium at every race. The most recent rider to take glory has been Sergio Gadea, who took his maiden World Championship victory at Le Mans, whilst series leader Lukas Pesek had his moment in the sun at China two weeks previous. Pesek leads the way by nine points from Gabor Talmacsi, having taken second in France to extend his advantage.

Hector Faubel lies just five points behind his Bancaja Aspar team-mate in third place, ahead of race winner in Turkey Simone Corsi. The top five in 125cc have all won races, with Gadea rounding off the first quintet, although one rider who really should have more to show than just six points on the board is Mattia Pasini. The Italian has been plagued by mechanical problems, and has finished just one race despite qualifying on pole for the last four races. He will hope for a reversal in fortunes at his home track.

Circuit Info

Located 30km north-east of Florence in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, Mugello is a modern circuit with excellent facilities. Bought by Ferrari back in 1988, the 5.245km track has been renovated to a high standard and has a growing reputation as one of the world´s most up-to-date, scenic and safest race circuits. A blend of slow and fast turns with sweeping curves, long straights and off-camber corners make Mugello one of the most challenging circuits for the riders and engineers.

Having hosted its first MotoGP event back in 1976 the venue became a permanent fixture in 1991 after extensive refurbishment. Set within a picturesque tree-lined Tuscan valley, Mugello also offers ample viewing areas for a particularly boisterous and partisan Italian crowd.

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Marlboro:

Monday May 28 2007 Italian GP – Preview

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM ON FINE FORM FOR MUGELLO

BODY { font-family : Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; } The Ducati Marlboro Team goes into its home Grand Prix in fine form, with the remarkable Casey Stoner leading the World Championship with three victories and a third place from the first five races and Loris Capirossi confident of a resurgence after a difficult French GP at rain-lashed Le Mans.

This is the first time that the Bologna-based squad contests the Italian GP as World Championship leader, a landmark moment that attests to the talent and dedication of this very Italian operation. As Ducati Motor Holding CEO Federico Minoli says: “Despite being a very small company there is an almost magical combination of genius, technology and all-Italian passion within Ducati that allows us to compete at the highest level”.

Stoner and Capirossi are greatly looking forward to riding the Desmosedici GP7 at Mugello, an epic circuit where they have both scored success. Capirossi has put his Ducati on the podium three times from their last four visits and is the current lap record holder, while Stoner scored his first-ever GP pole position for the 2003 Italian 125 GP. The entire team can count on massive support from the Mugello crowd, including 3000 lucky Ducatisti, sponsors and factory workers who will fill a special Ducati grandstand at the Correntaio right-hander.

FILIPP0 PREZIOSI, Ducati Corse Director “Mugello seems to suit our bike, and it is also one of Loris’ favourite tracks, where he has always been very competitive. So, having listened to his feedback and analysed his data, we have prepared a new package to help him fight for the kind of results he’s accustomed to achieving. These changes aim to modify the GP7’s power delivery to offer rideability that’s better suited to Lori’s riding style. The changes include electronics – revised engine mapping and ride-by-wire set-up – and mechanics – revised cam timing and fluid-dynamics. The same package will also be available for Casey if he wants to try it.”

CASEY STONER, World Championship leader on 102 points “Mugello is one of my favourite tracks. We’ve had some pretty good results there, including my first-ever pole position and I’ve made the podium in 125s. I think the bike is going to be really strong, the track’s got a nice main straight which helps and some nice fast and flowing corners which the Ducati should like, so we should be able to do all right. It would be a nice one to win but it’s going to be really tough work beating Loris and the rest of the Italian riders. But I feel we’re fast enough, the Ducati and the Bridgestones are going really well and if we can find the right settings we’ll be there. At Mugello you need a bike that changes direction good because there’s a lot of high-speed direction changes and the faster you go, the harder it is to change direction. You need a pinpoint accurate bike because you’ve got to hit the right points at the right time, and if you don’t do that you lose a lot of time, that’s what makes this track so hard.”

LORIS CAPIROSSI, 7th overall on 38 points “Mugello is my home race and Ducati’s home race, so it’s a really big weekend for all of us. In fact it’s a big event for all the Italian riders, last year Valentino (Rossi) and I had a great battle for the win. The Mugello crowd is very enthusiastic, there’s always an amazing atmosphere. I love the track, it’s got some fantastic corners and some really interesting up and down sections, so it’s a lot of fun to ride and I usually have good races there. The circuit character should suit our bike well, even if my feeling with the machine isn’t 100 per cent at the moment. Ducati are working closely with me to refine the bike to suit my style because I am eager to get back on the pace and race up front again. Above all I’m convinced that we do have the potential to come back strong, we just need to stay focused and do our best at this race and at the following races.”

THE TRACK

Mugello is one of MotoGP’s greatest events – a challenging, high-speed circuit situated in a picturesque Tuscan valley packed with tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans. The track features one of the world’s longest straights which gives the Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP7 a chance to really stretch its legs. The fast and flowing circuit is also one of the most demanding, with a thrilling blend of high-speed turns, rapid direction changes and plentiful off-camber corners. Mugello’s complexities are further heightened by a bumpy surface, which, combined with numerous adverse-camber corners, makes front-tyre choice particularly crucial. Mugello hosted its first bike GP in 1976 but only became a regular venue after total refurbishment in the early 1990s.

Lap record: Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1m 50.195s, 171.351km/h-106.473mph (2006)

Pole position 2006: Sete Gibernau (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1m 48.969s

More, from a press release issued by Honda Gresini:

READY FOR THE HOME GRAND PRIX

PREVIEW GP ITALY

After splashing his way to the podium in the treacherously wet conditions of Le Mans, Marco Melandri is ready to wind the throttle open at one of the fastest circuits in the world: Mugello. Spurred on by the passionate home support, Team Honda Gresini arrive at their home Grand Prix ready for another exciting new challenge. Melandri’s objective is to repeat or even improve his best result of the season in front of his own fans, who are sure to pack the beautiful Tuscan hills surrounding the circuit.

Toni Elias, meanwhile, was able to put his unfortunate race crash in France behind him with two days of positive tests at Le Mans. The combative Spaniard is highly motivated and fully focused on getting back to the run of good results he had started in the previous races.

The Honda Gresini pair currently lie fourth and eight respectively in the championship: Marco has 61 points – just one less than fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa in third place. Toni has registered 35 points so far.

Marco Melandri : “It’s nice to be heading to my home race on the back of a podium at Le Mans, a result myself and the whole team had worked really hard for. Your home Grand Prix is always exciting but demanding at the same time – in fact, Mugello is one of the most technical circuits on the calendar. Over the two days of tests in France we worked a lot on suspension although we still didn’t fully solve the problems I’ve been having in corner entry. It will be a tough race but the mere idea of racing in front of the Italian fans is a nice boost. I still haven’t made it to the podium in the premier-class at Mugello, so to make it this time would be fantastic. As far as tyre choice is concerned, at Mugello we’ll be using a similar construction to Le Mans but with a different compound in order to cope with the technical demands of the track.”

TONI ELIAS : “Mugello is a very technical track with a lot of changes in direction, which makes it physically demanding. From a riding perspective it is one of the most difficult on the whole calendar. Last year I made a good recovery from twelfth on the grid to finish seventh, and this season I am aiming much higher. The test at Le Mans confirmed the great job we had done throughout the weekend on the race setting for dry conditions. We did a good race simulation so I was happy about that but Mugello will be a completely different challenge.

THE TRACK: Just a few kilometres from Florence, the hills of Mugello are adorned by the trail of one of the most beautiful race circuits in the world. Both spectacular and technical, Mugello is a circuit where the rider can make the difference at any point on the track. It is characterised by changes in elevation, super-fast “esses”, off-camber corners and an extremely long front straight.

MUGELLO: THE SHOW IS READY TO START Many changes have been made to the Autodromo del Mugello this year in the name of innovation, hospitality and safety. A new welcome centre designed in the shape of a helmet will greet the fans on their arrival at the circuit. The innovative design is set to become the new symbol for the circuit, which is owned by Ferrari, whilst the journalists will also get to enjoy the facilities at a new media centre. One of the biggest changes is the safety run-off at Arrabbiata 1: 11,500m² of gravel with an average run-off of 30m. Now the run-off at Arrabbiata 1 & 2 has merged to make one, measuring an extra 280 metres.Huge natural grandstands have been created at the Scarperia and Correntaio corners. In total some 20,000 extra bums will be on seats this year – 8,000 at Materassi, 3,000 at Correntaio, 5,000 in the main grandstand and 4,000 at Poggio Secco.Tickets sales have been excellent, with almost all grandstand tickets now sold and the remaining ‘grass banking’ entries expected to be snapped up too.

Latest Posts

MotoGP: World Championship Race Results From Catalunya (Updated)

Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia won the FIM MotoGP World Championship...

Moto2: World Championship Race Results From Catalunya

Ai Ogura won the FIM Moto2 World Championship race...

Moto3: World Championship Race Results From Catalunya

David Alonso won the FIM Moto3 World Championship race...

MotoGP: World Championship Sprint Race Results From Catalunya (Updated)

Just two days after announcing plans to retire at...