The Mugello weekend for Ducati had begun in the worst possible way, but it ended in total triumph. The disastrous outcome of free practice had one rider hospitalised – miraculously out of danger – and a roasted engine after a blowout on the straight.
Things improved yesterday, with more than satisfactory qualifiers, culminating today in an explosion of joy: Jorge Lorenzo won his first Grand Prix with the Desmosedici GP undisturbed, Andrea Iannone finished on the second step of the podium, capitalising on the crash by Marquez, who took home zero points today.
Precisely in the most delicate moment of his career, with an uncertain future and an unsigned contract, the number 99 rider dug deep and pulled out his pride (which he still has intact) and decided to dust off his well-known repertoire: perfect start, masterful and clean lines, consistent and hammering pace. Using a hard tyre on the front, the Spaniard knew that he would have to be ultra-precise – perfect – avoiding any changes of trajectory in the event of a duel, and that is exactly what he did, winning the way he likes to: running away at the front in the style of his hero, Max Biaggi. “Many said that my method was not the right one – Jorge began – but with the new fuel tank Ducati brought, I showed that I can still be a winner.” The last time Lorenzo planted a black flag with the red X in the sand dates all the way back to Valencia 2016, when he rode in his last round of the season astride the Yamaha.
Dovizioso did not repeat his great success of 2017, but he raced hard, in any case bringing home a brilliant second place which allows him to recover positions in the championship standings and giving Ducati a peremptory one-two. “I am not entirely happy – number 04 revealed – but, considering how the weekend started these 20 points are very important for me.”
After achieving a record-setting pole position, Valentino had a hard front Michelin put on his factory M1 which held out for an astonishing 23 laps, but which did not allow him to battle for the win: “It was a very difficult race – Vale said – but I am happy. I pushed to the limit and I am back on the podium in front of my fans here.”
It was fourth place for Andrea Iannone’s Suzuki GSX-RR di Andrea Iannone, struggling with a front tyre that deteriorated precisely during the final duel for third. His teammate Rins got off to a bad start, but recovered positions to move up to fifth with some nice moves overtaking.
Cal Crutchlow rode the best Honda across the finish today with sixth place. Marquez ruined his weekend with a mistake in the early laps and Pedrosa crash in the early stages. At Mugello, HRC will not be handing out smiles.
Seventh place went to Danilo Petrucci astride his yellow and black Ducati, in the running for the podium until just a few kilometres from the end, then falling back with tyres cooked by the hot Tuscan asphalt. Jack Miller did even worse, the number 43 rider crashing out for zero points.
The front row start promised great things for Maverick Viñales – a promise that was broken. The Spaniard finished eighth and battled with satellite rider Bautista. It was a race to forget for Johann Zarco, finishing tenth.
With numerous crashing, finishing in the points was not easy. Succeeding in the endeavour were Pol Espargaró with his KTM, Syahrin with the Tech3 M1, Rabat, Smith and Morbidelli, fifteenth. Marquez rejoined the race after crashing, but his sixteenth place finish brought home no spoils for the Honda Repsol camp.
Rider standings: Marquez 95, Rossi 72, Viñales 67.