MUGELLO, Italy: World champion Jorge Lorenzo is targeting a fifth win in six years at the Italian MotoGP in Mugello this weekend to reinforce his position at the top of the overall standings.
Lorenzo notched his second victory of the season in France last time out as Yamaha recorded a second straight one-two finish, with Valentino Rossi runner-up behind the Spaniard at Le Mans.
Lorenzo, who pipped Rossi to the title in the final race last year, replaced compatriot Marc Marquez at the summit after the Honda rider trailed home in 13th at Le Mans following a crash.
“At Le Mans we got an important victory and we are leading the championship so we are pretty motivated for the coming races, especially the one in Mugello,” said Lorenzo, who has finished no lower than second in his previous seven races at Mugello.
“[It’s]a track that I usually enjoy a lot and where I’ve had some fun in the past. It’s one of my favorite places to ride,” he added.
Rossi is no stranger to success on his home circuit either having reeled off a record seven successive victories from 2002-08, but the Italian admits it’s not always easy to keep his focus in front of an adoring crowd.
“I love Mugello and its atmosphere. It’s very difficult for me to keep my concentration here because there are always so many of my friends and fans around, but the Mugello race is also special for me for that reason,” said Rossi, who is 12 points behind Lorenzo.
“I’ve had some victories here, many great battles and a lot of good memories. I think this year we can be competitive because our bike is good and I’m getting into a good shape,” he added.
Marquez, the 2013 and 2014 world champion, will aim to atone for a disappointing display in France by adding to his Mugello victory from two years ago.
The 23-year-old had registered four podium finishes prior to his Le Mans setback, and Marquez believes the track layout in Italy — and next month’s race in Barcelona — will provide something of a contrasting challenge.
“We need to focus and concentrate on Mugello and Montmelo which are two very different tracks from both Jerez and Le Mans,” said Marquez.
“They require more corner speed and if two years ago I would have said that they were demanding tracks for us now I think that maybe they can be better,” he added.
His Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa is a distant fourth with five races gone, but the three-time championship runner-up on Monday extended his contract with the Japanese outfit until 2018.
“With our future well lined up we’ll be totally free to just focus on the work to do on track,” said Pedrosa, who has been with Honda since his MotoGP debut in 2006.
“So far my overall pace in races has been better than it could be expected from practices, so I’m hoping to start strong on Friday [in free practice]and to keep improving over the weekend,” he added.