MotoGP - round 6

85,480 adoring MotoGP race fans packed into the Mugello circuit for the Italian Grand Prix and witnessed an Italian winning the race. It was Valentino Rossi that won, ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Alex Barros. For the early part of the race the World Championship leader Casey Stoner had led, only to be overtaken by his Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi before they both started moving back down the field of riders.

What promised to be a barnstormer of a MotoGP race in the earlier stages of this 23-lap race proved to be ultimately less tight than imagined as Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) led Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) to the flag with Alex Barros (Ducati) third.

Casey Stoner (Ducati) led from pole position into turn one with Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) on his tail and Alex Barros in the mix with Stoner’s team-mate Loris Capirossi holding an early fourth place before he shot past Barros. Marco Melandri (Honda) then took Capirossi for fourth.

On lap two Melandri sped to third and Pedrosa began his charge by relieving Vermeulen of fourth. Rossi meanwhile was seventh with John Hopkins (Suzuki) behind him and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden (Honda) tracking the American Suzuki man.

By lap five Capirossi had edged past teammate Stoner for the lead and the home team duo led Melandri and Pedrosa over the line at the end of that lap. But Dani then took them both on lap six to lead the race, disposing of Stoner at Arrabiatta 2. Rossi, ominously, was now third.

Rossi moved up to second at turn four and as he closed on Dani, the young Spaniard was clearly riding right on the edge as he hovered his left foot over the tarmac under braking. On lap nine Rossi made his bid for the lead at the downhill right Scarperia turn.

There were now two sets of three riders at the front: Rossi, Pedrosa and Stoner, one, two and three, Hopkins, Barros and Capirossi lying fourth, fifth and sixth. Carlos Checa (Honda) slid off (unhurt) and out the reckoning while trying to break into the top ten.

Rossi was now riding clear of the determined Dani who has rarely looked as ragged as the bike moved around under him, so hard was he trying. By lap 14 Rossi’s advantage was 1.9 seconds and Capirossi was dropping away from Barros in fourth. The Italian trailed the Brazilian by four seconds at the end of the lap.

Nothing then changed except Barros overhauling Stoner for third place on lap 21, the Australian trying gamely to stick with him to no avail. Toni Elias (Honda) rode to a dogged sixth place from his 15th place on the starting grid, while Melandri slipped to ninth at the flag, and Nicky came in tenth.

So it was Valentino Rossi that set yet another record in his extraordinary racing career today, becoming the first rider in the history of the sport to take six consecutive wins at his home circuit.

Valentino Rossi : "To win in Mugello once again is an incredible emotion for me and I am very happy at this moment. Racing in front of the fans here is always something unbelievable and they give me an extra motivation. It's an incredible feeling to see so much yellow around the track, the fans were ‘coming crazy' today and it was a wonderful race! As we had hoped it stayed dry, the sun came out and everything went to plan! My team have worked brilliantly, my bike was perfect and I could ride it exactly how I wanted, I need to say a huge thank you to them and also to Michelin. I didn't get a very good start but once my tyres had warmed up my M1 really flew and I was able to fight back to the front. From the very beginning everyone was pushing at 100% and it was great fun in those first few laps! It was really a perfect race for me today and I felt like I had everyone on my side; Mugello is a magical track for me and this victory gives us a lot of power and confidence for the next races. I had a special helmet for this race with a big heart on it and today I think we showed that we really have a lot of heart at Yamaha. This is a great, great moment for me."

Dani Pedrosa : “My start was very good and I was able to pass many riders. Then in the first corner when I touched the throttle I had a very big slide and they came past again. My performance was really strong from the beginning of the race until the middle and I was able to recover and take the lead. Then I started to have the same issues as in some of the other races this year. I could see that Valentino was getting away slowly but as I tried to speed up I was getting slides from both wheels, so I couldn’t push the tyres any harder and I had to close the throttle a little bit and settle for second.”

Casey Stoner : "That was a very difficult race. After warm-up we knew we would struggle a bit but I thought maybe we could make the podium. We were really close to a top-three result but we didn't quite manage it. Anyway, I'd like to say thank you to the team because we tried everything we could this weekend but unfortunately the conditions weren't perfect for us, with so much rain during practice. We learned some more lessons that will make us come back stronger at Barcelona next weekend. The biggest difficulty we had today was turning in the long corners and we also lacked a bit of traction. But, as I said, we should be able to solve these problems before the next race and score a better result."

John Hopkins : “It was a busy race, but an enjoyable one to say the least! We would have liked to have kept the podium streak going for Rizla Suzuki, but it was not to be today. It was really hard going at the start and I got involved in a bit of a dogfight with Valentino, which was really enjoyable – it was close racing but fun! The group then sort of bunched up a bit and then suddenly Rossi, Pedrosa and Stoner started to make a break and I knew I had to stay with them. I busted my butt to keep up there and the Bridgestone tyres performed great. I think we chose the right tyres today considering the amount of dry track time we had in practice. The bike was awesome out there, especially on the brakes – the amount of stability it has under braking is amazing! The mechanics did a fantastic job this weekend considering the conditions they had to work in, so a big thanks to them. We are now ready to go to Catalunya – a track I really like – and see what we can do there!”

Loris Capirossi : "I gave everything I had today and things were going well at the start. Then I had two big moments, first at Arrabbiata 1, then at Arrabbiata 2. I lost the front and risked falling, so that lost me some confidence in the front and I wasn't able to maintain such a fast pace, I had to slow my rhythm. Unfortunately, the strange weather conditions during the weekend didn't allow us to work the way we wanted to on my new engine spec. I used the new spec today because Ducati had done such a good job in giving me more rideability but we lacked some speed. Anyway, it was good to be up front again and we will work to improve some more during practice at Barcelona next weekend".

Colin Edwards : "Yet again Mugello just hasn't worked out for me and it was a pretty terrible weekend from start to finish. I think that today I had the pace for fifth or sixth place but starting from where I was I lost about six or seven seconds on the first lap alone as there was so much traffic in front of me. We lost a lot of time on Friday morning, one of only two hours of dry practice time, trying some new stuff which didn't work out and things didn't get much better after that. I think this is just my bogey track and I can't wait to leave and get straight back out there in a few days in Barcelona. Let's hope for better things in Spain."

Nicky Hayden : “You put yourself in a hole when you qualify in 13th and that really didn’t help me out much today. It was a tough race. I got a decent start and on the first lap I picked off a few riders but really I just didn’t have the race pace to go with the lead guys. In the last couple of laps I had a pretty good scrap with Vermeulen and Melandri but I was a lot further back than I would have liked to have been. It definitely wasn’t a great day for us. Basically I had an issue with the set-up today and the machine just didn’t feel planted in a lot of the fast corners here.”

MotoGP teams and riders now head to Barcelona in Spain

Race 1 - 23 Laps
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 42'42.385
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0'3.074
3. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 0'5.956
4. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 0'6.012
5. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 0'13.244
6. Toni Elias Honda ESP 0'19.255
7. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 0'19.646
8. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 0'22.810
9. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0'22.837
10. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 0'24.413
11. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 0'24.781
12. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0'28.001
13. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 0'36.733
14. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 0'45.098
15. Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 0'45.145

MotoGP Rider Standings 03/06/2007
1. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 115
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha (ITA) 106
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 82
4. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 68
5. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 63
6. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 59
7. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 47
8. Toni Elias Honda ESP 45
9. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 43
10. Colin Edwards Yamaha (USA) 39
11. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 36
12. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 35
13. Carlos Checa Honda ESP 20
14. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 19
15. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 18
16. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha (FRA) 14
17. Makoto Tamada Yamaha (JPN) 12

MotoGP Team Standings 03/06/2007
1. Ducati Marlboro Team 162
2. FIAT Yamaha Team 145
3. Rizla Suzuki 122
4. Repsol Honda Team 118
5. Honda Gresini 113
6. Pramac D'Antin 78
7. Kawasaki Racing Team 28
8. Tech3 Yamaha 26
9. Honda LCR 20
10. Konica Minolta Honda 18
11. Team Roberts 4

MotoGP Manufacturer Standings 03/06/2007
1. Ducati 118
2. Honda 109
3. Yamaha 106
4. Suzuki 82
5. Kawasaki 28
6. KR212V 4