The stakes are getting higher for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP at round six of the MotoGP World Championship. The team aim to bring their A-game to Italy for their first home Grand Prix of the season, held at the Autodromo del Mugello this weekend.
Maverick Viñales is looking to bounce back from a difficult race weekend in Le Mans, France, with full force. The Spaniard was pleased with the progress made during last week’s test in Montmeló, Spain, and is eager to keep the momentum going at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley. He hopes to decrease the gap to the leader in the championship standings, now that he has climbed up to second place.
The number 25 rider has a lot confidence arriving at the Tuscan circuit. So far, he has stood on the podium at the Italian GP on four occasions, having secured a win in 2012 (Moto3), a second place in 2017 (MotoGP) and two third places in 2011 (125cc) and 2013 (Moto3).
Local hero Valentino Rossi is also looking forward to putting on a show for the Italian crowd. Fresh from a third place at the Grand Prix de France, held a fortnight ago, the fans’ favourite has moved up to fourth place in the championship rankings, and he’s motivated to make further progress this weekend at a circuit that is very special to him.
The Doctor holds a record of seven back-to-back premier class victories at Mugello (from 2002 to 2008), and he also scored three MotoGP third places (in 2009, 2014 and 2015), a 250cc win (in 1999) and a second place (in 1998), and a 125cc win (in 1997). Besides seeing their hero in action, the spectators can also expect a special helmet design, as done each year by the Italian to show his appreciation for their support.
The winding 5.2 km circuit of Mugello is located 30km north-east of Florence. It hosted its first MotoGP event back in 1976 and became a permanent fixture in 1991 after extensive refurbishment. The track is dearly beloved amongst riders, engineers and fans because of its high-energy levels during a race weekend. The Italian GP draws in thousands of enthusiastic spectators who live and breathe motorsports and enjoy the great views the circuit offers of its fast and slow turns, longest straight and various uphill and downhill sections.
Championship: 2nd – Points: 59
“We’re working our way through a difficult time. We lost some very important points for the championship in the earlier rounds but, even so, we won’t give up and we’ll continue working hard to get good results in the races to come. I’ve climbed up to second in the championship and that motivates me to keep working hard. After the difficult race in Le Mans we went to Montmeló for a test and there I felt good again with my bike, I had good feelings. Step-by-step we will get back to the top. Mugello is a track that I like and where I’ve always had a lot of fun, and it’s perfect for my riding style. We face the Italian Grand Prix optimistically and eager to find the perfect set-up for our bike. I’ll try to fight for the victory, as I’ve always done in each race. I will give my 100% and will try not to disappoint our fans.”
Championship: 4th – Points: 56
“It’s great to have scored a podium in Le Mans, before Mugello. In general it’s good to be on the podium before any race, because the ten days before the next race you’re not angry. To arrive in Mugello feeling relaxed is better. I was feeling optimistic about the race in Mugello before the test there a few weeks ago, but during the test we were not as fast as we wanted to be. During this weekend we need to give more. We need to improve the bike and try our best.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Mugello is very special to our team because it’s the first home race of the season. Besides the fantastic fan support we get here, it’s a beautiful circuit and in the past our bike suited the track’s lay-out very well, so this all adds to the excitement. Both our riders also have a soft spot for this venue, and after the positive test we had in Montmeló last week we are all ready to give it our best shot again this weekend. It’s really important to start working in the right direction from the first session, because the competition is fierce. The Grands Prix in Mugello are always tough races, but we will work hard to be ready for the fight on Sunday!”