MotoGP: 2010 Mugello Results

Rossi's Loss is Honda's Gain as Pedrosa Wins in Tuscany

Imagine the Gran Premio d’Italia at Mugello without Valentino Rossi. That’s what 76,000 crazed Italian racing fans were called upon to do on Sunday. Next, they were forced to watch as Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, a Spaniard, for God’s sake, left the field in his wake and won the race going away. Finally, they had to watch a podium ceremony without a single Ducati representative showering paddock girls with champagne. Valentino Rossi’s leg injury has brought a New World Order to MotoGP, and Italian racing fans aren’t going to like it.

Sunday’s race itself wasn’t particularly exciting, except perhaps in the Repsol Honda garage. Pedrosa is a genuine front-runner, in the worst sense of the term. He invariably gets off to fast starts, the fastest on the grid, looking most weeks like he’s been launched from a catapult. When his bike has the set-up he likes, as it did last year at Laguna Seca and again at Valencia, he’s simply untouchable. When he doesn’t, and things get a little, um, congested in the turns, he fades, as we saw at Jerez and again at Le Mans two weeks ago.

Valentino Rossi's injury cast a pall over the race for the local Italian fans at Mugello.

Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who had second place to himself all day (other than about thirty seconds early in the race when Dovizioso made a run at him), might have entertained thoughts about tracking Pedrosa down had he not been the sole Fiat rider out there today. The mature new 2010 model Lorenzo, the one who sees the Big Picture so well, must have decided that a leisurely 20 points was a better choice than a high-risk run at 25. New World Order at work.

With Rossi out, Repsol Honda had its best race of the season.

Rossi’s violent high-side in routine Saturday morning practice session has turned the 2010 MotoGP season upside-down. Sunday’s race was but the first installment in a series of consequences at the top of the premier class food chain. While Lorenzo is now unarguably the top MotoGP dog this year, the Repsol Honda team of Pedrosa and third-place finisher Andrea Dovizioso suddenly looks, well, formidable. “Dani and Dovi” (ugh) were joined in the top six by San Carlo’s Marco Melandri and LCR Scot’s Randy de Puniet for Honda’s best showing of the season. Hondas had taken two of the top six spots at Qatar and Jerez and three at Le Mans. Without Fiat Yamaha’s Rossi nailing podiums for the foreseeable future, things are looking up at HRC. Yep – New World Order again.

Good News and Bad News at Ducati Marlboro

Unlike at Le Mans, this time it was Nicky Hayden that lost his front end and Casey Stoner finishing fourth.Going into today’s race, Nicky Hayden, who had qualified in the four-hole, was probably hoping he wouldn’t finish fourth again this week, having ended up just off the podium in every race this year. A textbook example, if you will, of the need to be careful what you wish for, as Hayden lost the front end – something of a fetish this year on the factory Ducati team – on lap six and recorded his first DNF since San Marino last year.

Meanwhile, Casey Stoner, who had already recorded two DNFs this season, was locked in a day-long battle for fourth with Melandri and de Puniet, and had spent most of his day in sixth. Oh, the horror! However, on Lap 23, Stoner reached down deep and passed both Melandri and de Puniet, finishing a more respectable fourth in front of plenty of factory brass. Thank God for small favors.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Colin Edwards and Loris Capirossi share a quiet moment at Mugello.
With a seventh-place finish, Ben Spies makes his case for taking Valentino Rossi's place, though Yamaha says it's in no rush to name a replacement rider.

The two penthouse runs of the day were delivered by Dovizioso (qualified eighth, finished third) and Marco Melandri (qualified 14th, finished fifth). Joining Hayden in the outhouse, however, was Monster Tech 3 icon Colin Edwards, whose season is in absolute shreds. After qualifying well in fifth place – would have been sixth if Rossi wasn’t in the hospital – Edwards drove his Yamaha to a miserable 13th place finish. In fact, were it not for the courageous Alvaro Bautista, who pushed his Suzuki around the course with a broken clavicle and picked up two championship points while avoiding getting lapped, Edwards might have been the last rider to cross the finish line. Shades of Pokey Canepa and Gabor Talmacsi! We’ll probably get some explanation from Colin as to what his problem was out there today, but it was bad. Or, as they say in Texas, bad, y’all.

Edwards’ teammate Ben Spies, one of what seems like a dozen potential replacements for Rossi on the factory Yamaha team, started and finished in seventh place in his first ever crack at Mugello. San Carlo rookie Marco Simoncelli collected another top ten finish and a few more votes for the Top Rookie Not Named Spies award.

Last year’s rookie of the year, Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio, continued his horrible sophomore season in the premier class, retiring with a mechanical issue on Lap 9 for his second DNF in four races. Teammate Aleix Espargaro, on the other hand, had a decent day after qualifying ninth, finishing in eighth place, albeit a half a lap behind Pedrosa. Their riders may not be great, but Pramac has the most gorgeous paddock girls on earth.

The Big Picture Going Forward

With Rossi stuck at 61 points for the next several months, the pecking order in the premier class now features Lorenzo with 90 points, Pedrosa with 65, and Dovizioso with 58. Ladies and gentlemen, your new top three! Somewhat surprisingly, Hayden (39), de Puniet (36) and Melandri (32) occupy spots four through six. Completing the top ten are Stoner (24!), Simoncelli (23), Spies (20) and Hector Barbera (tied with Colin Edwards) with 19 points. Stoner and Edwards consorting with rookies is another symptom of the NWO, although it’s hard to lay this one on Rossi.

Jorge Lorenzo showed his support for Valentino Rossi by wearing a VR46 shirt on the podium.

The flying circus heads to Silverstone for the British GP in two weeks. Last year at Silverstone, um, well, never mind. The British GP has been held at Donington Park since 1987, so there’s no recent history to look at. However, expect Lorenzo, the two Repsol Honda riders and Casey Stoner to slug it out in England. Stoner’s last lap uprising today shows that the Aussie and his Desmosedici aren’t dead. Yet.

Moto2 – The Adrenaline Rush Continues

Italian Andrea Iannone won the inaugural Moto2 tilt at Mugello, giving the hometown fans at least something to cheer about. He was joined on the podium by Spaniard Sergio Gadea and compatriot Simone Corsi in a thrilling battle for the podium that featured a fantastic last lap duel between the place and show finishers and Thomas Luthi, who missed out on third place by a ri-donk-ulous 15/1000’s of a second. Toni Elias nosed out Shoya Tomizawa for fifth place in yet another thrilling Moto2 match.

After four rounds, Elias continues to lead the Moto2 league. Tomizawa trails by 19 points and Corsi trails Tomizawa by only four. Gadea sits in fourth place, followed by Iannone, whose 25 points today give him 38 for the season. Alex “If It Weren’t For Bad Luck, I Wouldn’t Have No Luck At All” de Angelis secured his first five points of the season with an 11th place finish.

Although, contrary to my expectation, nobody crashed in turn one of Lap 1, ten riders failed to finish today, most of whom left the track in awkward, topsy-turvy, handlebar-bending postures.

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