Mugello may never sleep, but that didn’t prevent a dream Italian GP for the Borgo Panigale factory rider
Italian rider, Italian bike, Italian GP…and the tricolore flew high over the podium at Mugello, as Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso took a magnificent win battling rivals on track and illness off it to cross the line over a second clear of Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and an impressive home podium for second Italian Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing).
Home hero Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) shot off the line for the lead from P2 on the grid, denying teammate and polesitter Viñales as Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) stormed up from seventh to fight off Dovizioso for third.
With the leaders in-line, over the line saw Lorenzo use the incredible speed of the Ducati to take the lead for the first time in red, dueling with old nemesis Rossi before the Italian took him back – and the next lap proved almost a replay as two of the men to have dominated the sport this decade found themselves sharing the front of the race for the first time this season.
Then it was ‘DesmoDovi’ on the move past his teammate after Viñales had gone through on Rossi, the Championship leader taking the ‘Doctor’ as the trio began to break away from Lorenzo – with Petrucci on the chase.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had an incredible start from P16 after having suffered with illness throughout the weekend, moving up into seventh, as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) suffered a different fate and got a ride through for a jump start.
Petrucci caught the group before too long as Dovizioso took over at the front, and the Pramac rider then pounced on Viñales after a small mistake to follow ‘DesmoDovi’. Then it was holding station as the gaps grew and then shrunk, before the factory Ducati in the lead gained a small gap – and every member of the Borgo Panigale team held their breath as Viñales took over in second, only a few laps remaining and the Championship leader with his head down.
Closing in and then falling back, the pendulum swung between the two men until the last lap dawned – and ‘DesmoDovi’ kept it inch-perfect around every corner to take his third ever Grand Prix victory, and the first for a red machine at Mugello since Casey Stoner won in 2009.
Viñales took second to increase his Championship lead once again, with Petrucci putting in the dry-weather ride of his life to complete the podium after staying clear of Rossi over the last couple of laps. The ‘Doctor’, who suffered a motocross crash in training the week before the event, pushed hard through the pain barrier at home and just missed the podium but took good points – as always, putting on a great show.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) took a big scalp as he caught and passed reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to complete the top five, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) coming home in P7 behind Marquez.
Lorenzo, after his early duel for the lead, suffered grip issues later in the race and crossed the line in eighth, beating Ducati test rider Michele Pirro over the line. Iannone’s heroics following his illness saw him complete the top ten at home.
The late drama a little further off the front saw a tough day for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) conclude in a crash as the ‘Baby Samurai’ slid out, unfortunately collecting LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow on the final lap.
Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took P11, with the top fifteen completed by Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing), Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Now the paddock packs up and heads for Barcelona, as the Catalan GP turns the home tables for many on the grid – sure to result in another spectacular, spectacular.