Mugello is known for great racing. It is a truly superb circuit - and we had at least two prime examples of that today.
Danny Kent went and did Danny Kent things in qualifying, finishing 0.3 seconds ahead of Leopard teammate Hiroki Ono to take pole. Romano Fenati joined them on the first row, while Fabio Quartararo and Efren Vasquez could only qualify 13th and 15th respectively.
Kent got a superb start to take the lead, Fenati slotting behind him into second. Francesco Bagnaia moved up to third, with Ono disappearing backwards. Fenati kept Kent honest, eventually forcing him wide and taking the lead himself. Kent fell to fifth before the front five all slipstreamed each other, Kent retaking the lead with Niccolo Antonelli following him through to second. Enea Bastianini and Brad Binder joined the party, as Kent and Antonelli started to take chunks out of each other.
The group were keeping hold of the front two though, and a group of them got past the leaders, Fenati reclaiming the lead from Jakub Kornfeil and Brad Binder. Kent fell down to sixth at one point. Bagnaia would take the lead two laps later, with Bastianini also getting involved along with Karel Hanika.
Ever seen eight bikes abreast trying to slipstream each other? You've missed a treat. Watching the Moto3 bikes come down the home straight together jostling for position was something else. Kent would go from sixth to second by the end of the straight, with Hanika taking the lead. Kent would fall back down to seventh by the end of the lap, with Vasquez finally reaching the leading pack, which all of a sudden had become a group of 16. Bastianini put a block pass on about half the group at one point.
This race is impossible to keep up with. Bastianini took the lead. Fenati fell to eighth. Kent fell to 14th. Miguel Oliveira silently crept up to the lead. Vasquez got to the front before Oliveira went underneath him. Quartararo was the first major casualty, losing the front end at turn 15.
Oliveira and Vasquez swapped the lead several times at turn one. Fenati moved from ninth to second. Bastianini jumped from seventh to third. Kent got back up to eighth, then seventh. Fenati took the lead back, and Vasquez fell down to tenth. This is madness.
Juanfran Guevara crashed out from the tail end of the leading pack. Kent would later make use of the nine-bike slipstream to jump from seventh to second. The next lap, it would happen to him, falling back to ninth.
Last lap. Fenati used the slipstream to get past Oliveira, with Bagnaia and Kent following him. Oliveira moved back into third with Bastianini on his back. Oliveira moved up to second. Vasquez and Hanika crashed out. Oliveira took the lead with two turns left, Kent followed through to second, and they finished that way out. Fenati pipped Bagnaia for third on the line, with Bastianini in fifth. A good points finish for Jorge Navarro in seventh, and Maria Herrera, while not ending in the points, was a very respectable 21st.
|1||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||39:39.510||25|
|2||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||+0.071||20|
|3||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||+0.127||16|
|4||Francesco Bagnaia||Mapfre Mahindra||+0.130||13|
|5||Enea Bastianini||Honda Gresini||+0.200||11|
|7||Jorge Navarro||Estrella Galicia||+1.498||9|
|9||Alexis Masbou||Saxoprint RTG||+1.985||7|
|10||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM||+2.139||6|
|11||Hiroki Ono||Leopard Honda||+4.966||5|
|12||Niklas Ajo||RBA Racing||+5.142||4|
|13||Andrea Locatelli||Honda Gresini||+5.161||3|
|14||Livio Loi||RW Racing||+5.161||2|
|15||Andrea Migno||Sky VR46 KTM||+5.650||1|
Kent now leads the championship by a Valentino Rossi - 46 points ahead of the field. Bastianini remains second, while Oliveira moves up to fourth on the back of Vasquez's second consecutive DNF.
|Moto3 Championship Top 5|
|1||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||124||20|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Honda||78||11|
|3||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||67||16|
|4||Miguel Oliveira||Estrella Galicia||66||25|
|5||Efren Vasquez||Leopard Honda||60||0|
Sam Lowes took the Moto2 pole, 0.34 seconds up on the impressive Dominique Aegerter. Tito Rabat's impressive practice pace could only be converted to third on the grid, with Thomas Luthi, winner in Le Mans, starting fourth. Championship leader Johann Zarco started from sixth.
An incredible start from Aegerter saw him break away from the line. Luthi moved up to second after a poor start from Lowes, who left turn two in third. Simone Corsi looked quick in fourth, trying to make a move on Lowes into turn one of lap two, hitting Lowes in the process with the Italian crashing out and Lowes going very wide. Xavier Simeon took advantage and moved to third.
Luthi went past his fellow Swiss rider in Aegerter to take the lead, then losing the rear end soon afterwards and exiting the race. Rabat moved up to second, with Jonas Folger looking interested in fourth. Lowes recovered from the incident, moving up to seventh from 10th. Alex Rins was running a lowly 13th while his teammate Luis Salom was challenging Zarco for fifth. Folger dropped out of the race, pushing Lowes up to fifth.
Rabat had a steady lead in front, with Zarco closing up on Aegerter in second, managing to lose Salom, who in turn was being reeled in by Lowes, with the Brit taking fourth with 13 laps remaining. Three turns later, Zarco took second.
The next few laps were very calm, by Moto2 standards. Zarco was making a small impression on Rabat's lead, but the top ten were all riding very comfortably in their own positions, probably the most exciting thing being a wobble for Lorenzo Baldassarri, seeing him drop to tenth.
To be honest, the race was a bit of a letdown after the Moto3 show. Zarco couldn't get close enough to Rabat, Lowes couldn't get close enough to Aegerter. Salom came fifth, with Simeon coming sixth. Axel Pons had a quiet race in ninth, with Baldassarri holding on for tenth.
|1||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||39:40.545||25|
|4||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||+5.554||13|
|5||Luis Salom||Paginas Amarillas HP40||+7.493||11|
|6||Xavier Simeon||Federal Oil Gresini||+7.896||10|
|8||Sandro Cortese||Dynavolt Intact||+17.380||8|
|10||Lorenzo Baldassarri||Athina Forward||+18.836||6|
|11||Alex Rins||Paginas Amarillas HP40||+20.698||5|
|12||Alex Marquez||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+20.923||4|
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||IDEMITSU Honda||+22.433||3|
|15||Azlan Shah||IDEMITSU Honda||+27.715||1|
All of which means Zarco extends his lead in the championship to 31 points, with Rabat's first win since San Marino last year moving him up to second. Lowes's second fourth place finish in a row sees him stay in fourth in the championship, curiously enough.
|Moto2 Championship Top 5|
|2||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||78||25|
|4||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||67||13|
For the first time since Giacomo Agostini (IE: a long time ago), an Italian took the pole in the heavyweight class - but not the Italian you might have expected. Andrea Iannone, dislocated shoulder, torn ligaments and all, put his Ducati on pole, with team mate Andrea Dovizioso third - while wildcard Ducati Michele Pirro looked very good in sixth.
The two main riders were split by the in-form Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha rider starting two rows ahead of his team mate Valentino Rossi, the championship leader starting in eighth. Cal Crutchlow's impressive season continued, his satellite LCR Honda being the highest place Honda bike in fourth, while Marc Marquez's nightmare 2015 got worse after poor pace in all sessions this weekend, the defending champion starting in a lowly 13th.
It looked like a jump start by Andrea Iannone, but Dovizioso made a great start to take the lead, with Lorenzo maintaining second. Bradley Smith was up to fourth from 11th, as Marquez jumped to 5th, before then taking fourth from Smith. Lorenzo went past Dovizioso, with Crutchlow down to seventh. Aleix Espargaro went down on lap three, barged out of the way by Danilo Petrucci, recovering from broken tendons, and Karel Abraham was given a drive through penalty for a jump start - so no penalty for Iannone.
Marquez made light work of Dovizioso and quickly went after Lorenzo, instantly sparking memories of last year's race in Mugello. Jack Miller crashed out, adding to his problems after cracking his funny bone, Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl soon following him. Lorenzo managed to gap Marquez though, stretching a lead open while Dovizioso caught and passed Marquez. Dani Pedrosa moved up to fifth and started to catch up the battle for second, and Crutchlow and Rossi made light work of the two Tech 3 bikes in Pol Espargaro and Smith.
Three laps later, Marquez and Iannone went past Dovizioso, and Pedrosa was close to the pack. Lorenzo, meanwhile, was 4.2 seconds ahead of them, looking very assured. Suddenly, the GOAT picked up the pack, getting closer to the back of Pedrosa - or at least he was until Pedrosa went past Dovizioso, who was then taken by Rossi - met with a thunderous reception by the crowd. Soon after, Dovizioso retired, reporting problems with the back end of the Ducati. Iannone and Marquez traded second several times, with Rossi and Pedrosa fighting for fourth.
Iannone got ahead with six laps left, and as Marquez tried to fight back, he lost the front end, falling almost in slow motion. Later in the same lap, Rossi went past Pedrosa for third, getting another rapturous reception - you couldn't hear the bikes for the crowd. Crutchlow and Smith were now fifth and sixth - until Crutchlow took a big crash at turn eight with three laps left - the bike going over his legs and smashing into the wall. Here's hoping he's okay.
With two laps to go, Rossi was making inroads on Iannone, but not getting close enough to the extremely injured Ducati rider. Neither of them were even in the same county as Lorenzo though, who won with ease. Both Italians got a great response in second and third, with Pedrosa in fourth. Smith finished as the top satellite bike in fifth, with team mate Pol Espargaro in sixth. Maverick Viñales was superb in bringing the Suzuki home in seventh, while there were points finishes for Pirro in eighth, Scott Redding in 11th, Loris Baz in 12th, Alvaro Bautista's Aprilia in 14th and Eugene Laverty in 15th.
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||41:39.173||25|
|3||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||+6.661||16|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||+9.978||13|
|5||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||+15.284||11|
|6||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3 Yamaha||+15.665||10|
|7||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki Ecstar||+23.805||9|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||+32.008||7|
|10||Yonny Hernandez||Pramac Ducati||+34.571||6|
|11||Scott Redding||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+38.553||5|
|12||Loris Baz||Athina Forward||+42.158||4|
|14||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Gresini||+50.435||2|
|15||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||+53.060||1|
Lorenzo's third imperious win in a row sees him close the gap on Rossi to just six points. Iannone moves up to fourth with his superb second, while Bradley Smith is the lead satellite bike, on 57 points.
|MotoGP Championship Top 5|
|1||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||118||16|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||112||25|
|5||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||69||0|
Ride Of The Day
Tito Rabat rode well for victory in Moto2, while Lorenzo, Rossi and Iannone really impressed in GP. This weekend, the award goes to the entire Moto3 field. If you haven't seen that race, find a way of watching it becase it was absolutely incredible. My cap is doffed to each and every one of them.
As an aside, my thoughts are with Cal Crutchlow, because that was a horrible crash.
Next Time Out
Back to Spain, for a ride around Catalunya. See you then.