Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo continued his momentum at the Autodromo del Mugello track as he secured a brilliant victory in the Gran Premio d’Italia. His achievement marks the Yamaha Factory Racing team’s hundredth premier class win of the modern four-stroke era, that began in 2002, as well as their third consecutive first place of the 2016 season. Valentino Rossi also gave a stunning performance in the early stages of the 23-lap sprint as he battled with his teammate for the lead, until a mechanical issue on Lap 9 prevented him from completing the race.
The Autodromo del Mugello circuit was filled with thousands of fans who gathered to see the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders continue their 2016 MotoGP World Championship challenge. Jorge Lorenzo rode his signature race, leading over the line on each lap, to take a flawless victory at the Gran Premio d’Italia. Team-mate and local hero Valentino Rossi was also in contention for a strong result, but was unable to finish the race from a technical failure.
Lorenzo was quick to make his intentions clear and had a flying start from fifth place on the grid to take the holeshot. With his team-mate on his tail, he led across the line after the first lap, but it soon became clear his fellow Yamaha rider would not go down without a fight. The Doctor made a pass going into turn one, but Lorenzo was not shaken and quickly regained the lead as the Italian ran wide.
With a clear track ahead, the No. 99 rider tried to break away, but he was unable to shake Rossi who continued to pile on the pressure, ready to seize any opportunity to pass. However, the smooth Spaniard left no space for him to slip past and made sure to brake at the last possible moment every time going into turn one to keep the lead.
Lorenzo rode defensively until Rossi fell behind due to a mechanical issue and was forced to retire. This allowed the current World Champion a small breather until Marquez tapped onto the back of his YZR-M1 with ten laps to go. With five points between them in the championship, the two compatriots battled hard for the win. The last lap saw a flurry of activity, with Lorenzo making an unexpected overtaking maneuver in the Scarperia corner. It didn’t stick, but Lorenzo cleverly used his experience and launched his YZR-M1 out of the last corner to steal the victory, his third of the season, as he crossed the line 0.019 of a second ahead of Marquez.
Starting from pole position, team-mate Rossi had a good start and slotted in behind Lorenzo going into turn one. Determined not to let the Spaniard get away, Rossi briefly took the lead in the second lap of the race going into turn one, but had to hand it back when he ran wide. With the massive support from his fans cheering him on, the Doctor kept as close to Lorenzo as possible while keeping Marquez at a distance, but his race ended prematurely with 15 laps to go from a technical issue.
Lorenzo’s 25 point score gives him a total score of 115 points, keeping him in first position in the championship standings, with a ten-point lead. He is 37 points ahead of Rossi in third place, who has scored 78 points so far this season.
“It’s been a mixed day for us today. Jorge did a fantastic job to take over the lead into the first corner starting from the second row of the grid. He knows how difficult overtaking at the Mugello circuit is and made his YZR-M1 as wide as he could while he was battling with Valentino and later with Marquez to give Yamaha its 100th premier class win since the modern MotoGP era started in 2002. It was very unfortunate that Vale’s race ended early because of a technical issue, else he would certainly have been able to challenge for the win and join his teammate on the podium. He was really confident on the bike and it’s a real shame that he lost a lot of points in the championship. We will look into what happened today during the break between the races, to come back fully prepared for the next round in Barcelona,” said Massimo Meregalli-Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director.
An obviously elated Lorenzo said, “It was an unexpected race, because we thought for example that Iannone and Viñales, who had a very high pace, would be fighting until the end for the victory, but in the end it was Marc. He didn’t look like he had the pace in the practice sessions, but he was following me the whole race. I tried to escape, pushing so much on the changes in direction and I used a lot of energy and I thought I maybe I didn’t have enough to fight with Marc for the victory, because with him riding behind me he maybe saved more energy and was more powerful at the end, but my luck was the engine this time. When I stayed behind him I thought I was losing the race and tried a bit of a crazy move that I pulled on De Angelis in 250cc in the race in 2005.
“This memory was in my head, so I said to myself “Why not try the same?” and did it. I passed him but went wide and he overtook me again. In the last corner I tried again under braking, but he closed the door so much that if I had released the brake maybe we could have touched and crashed together, so I decided to stay in second place and make a lot of speed in the last corner and exit with the slipstream and try. When I exited the corner I thought I was losing the race, but my bike caught up with him so much, it was a surprising win. In Moto3 we often see races like this, but in MotoGP this kind of finish doesn’t happen often. Today, if I had been fighting with Rossi or Iannone, I wouldn’t have won, it was a crazy battle,” he added.
Rossi for his part lamented, “It’s a great shame, because it’s always a pity when you have a problem with the bike in the race, but here even more so because it was in Mugello in front of all the crowd. I was very competitive in the race and very fast, I had a good start and I was there. I think I could have fought for the victory because I had a very good feeling and a strong pace. It’s also a great shame because this zero points score for the championship weighs very heavily. Lorenzo and Marquez finished first and second, so now the distance is hard, but it’s like this.”
“The positive thing is that I was competitive over the whole weekend and I was strong. I could have fought for the victory, so now we wait for the next race in Montmeló. Catalunya is one of my favourite tracks, I like to race there a lot, so I think we will have a good potential, but now we have to wait ten days and after that we will see,” he added.