Mugello Weekend - Can Jack Miller make it three from three?
The Mugello Grand Prix is here and what an exhilarating circuit it is to watch a Grand Prix whether in the grand stands, on track, in the paddock or on the service roads with the required protocols. This circuit has a special place in the hearts of fans and in particular those living within and nearby to the Tuscany region. The one rider who is aiming for triple success with his Ducati MotoGP Team is Jack Miller, plus with a home race to enjoy with Ducati! It will be a tricky track to navigate, with certain riders ready for the challenge and others looking to find a set up that works for a complete rhythm. The Ducati bikes are going to have incredible speed potential, so putting in the fast laps will be interesting to observe whilst Marc Marquez continues to adjust and find his new limits. Soft, medium or hard, which tyres would you utilise with your choice of manufacturer, because this weekend, the choices are guaranteed to decide how the qualifying laps and race unfolds. As we approach the race, Miller has resigned for 2022 which takes off the pressure and enables him to race with a clear sense of self and happiness more importantly than anything. A strong rider who has his future secured makes a world of difference and Miller knows his worth now after conquering the dark fears that were constantly in the back and front of his mind. This weekend could see Miller emulate Casey Stoner and his success with Ducati. In comparison, Millers teammate Pecco Bagnaia is hungry to win with the Ducati outfit on home soil. The relationship he has with the bike is special and his consistency is a clear reason why Valentino Rossi recruited him to the academy in the first place. We will be watching both Ducati riders with interest this weekend.
"After almost two years, we're back at Mugello, and I'm really thrilled. The Italian GP is the home race for our team, and this track is always special. It will definitely be a very different weekend without the fans in the stands, but I'm sure that all the Ducatisti will be cheering for us from home! After winning the last two Grands Prix, I'm very motivated, and I'm keen to keep that momentum going. I can't wait to get back on track this weekend!"
"The Italian Grand Prix is our home race, and it's held at Mugello, one of my favourite tracks! It'll be the first time I'll ride here wearing the official colours of the Ducati Lenovo Team, and this motivates me even more! During the last few races, my feeling with the Desmosedici GP has always been excellent, and Mugello is a circuit that suits our bike's technical specifications very well. We'll see how it goes this weekend, but I'm determined and confident that we can have a good race”.
In terms of the challenges looking to take advantage of Mugello, both Yamaha teams want the glory in particular Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales, Rossi and Franco Morbidelli. So many of the Italian riders classify this as a home race and want the honour of standing tall in the Tuscan hills. The area where Rossi is finding it difficult is with the braking area, not enough grip and a lack of confidence. The change of direction is slow and this is not ideal considering Rossi’s previous experience at a circuit he loves racing at even with the lack of fans due to the pandemic across the globe. Whilst Rossi ponders his thoughts, Vinales is roaring to get after becoming a father for the first time. He has that extra motivation, desire and push to bring home a result for his family unit. We know from the past that Vinales has been strong whilst being pushed by the likes of Morbidelli who is finding his feet after a rocky start with his Yamaha team. The choice to perform is now up to both Morbidelli and Rossi because there is only so long their outfit can handle poor results and lack of wins.
“It’s time for the race weekend at Mugello. We weren’t able to visit this race last year, so that makes this weekend feel a bit special besides the fact that it’s also my team’s home GP. We had a good weekend in Le Mans overall, and I also think our potential is good for this weekend. I’m excited to get to work and just do the best we can.”
“I like Mugello a lot. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the MotoGP calendar. I usually go very fast there. It’s a circuit that has a bit of everything. There are points on that track where I’m at a good level, and overall I’m usually competitive at Mugello. I can’t wait to start this race weekend!”
“I’m hoping to arrive at Mugello this weekend in the best shape possible, after receiving some treatment for my knee. I love Mugello; it is a great track, full of history and I have some great memories there. The feeling I have when riding there is a little different compared to the other tracks. It's wonderful to be going back racing at Mugello, after no round last year, but it won't be a normal one as we won't have the fans at the track cheering us on. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to going back and I hope that our bike continues to go well there and we will see what happens.”
“I was able to fight for better positions and be within the top-ten at Le Mans, but we suffered in the mixed conditions on Sunday. I felt better with the bike as well, so it was a shame it was a confusing race like that. Hopefully the weather will be more consistent this weekend at Mugello and we will be able to confirm the improvements from the Jerez Test. It is a fantastic track and fortunately I have many good memories there. It is always special so I’m really looking forward to being there next, although it is a shame that there will be no fans at the circuit because they are always great there and give us a lot of support. It is always nice to see them in the grandstands. It is a great track, the Italian Grand Prix so we just look forward to being there.”
Overall, the Honda manufacturer is improving week by week although it appears Marquez is not 100% on top of his fitness and still recovering. With such a demanding circuit like Mugello, the team is asking a lot of the Spanish World Champion. The physical demand on a MotoGP rider is incredible with hard braking, tight turns, speed and will be a determining factor in pushing past any emotional barriers that arise. This weekend is also vital for the World Championship because you can lose the lead very easily with mistakes that are certainly costly whilst others look to profit from those errors. We anticipate fellow teammate Pol Espargaro will want a weekend with zero mistakes and more confidence. At this point of the season, it is clear that Espargaro needs a clear mind and Marquez is listening to his body rather than his mind. The severity of his injury was major so to push just for the sake of doing and ruin his body is not practical.
“I have had a good week to continue with the recovery process. We showed our potential in the wet in France and this weekend in Mugello we have to work well from Friday morning to try to be consistent and find good pace. I understand my physical limitations and know that it will not be the easiest of weekends to be close to the front in the dry. Now we arrive at two back-to-back races, which is a first for me this year. It will be more physically demanding, but we can manage it.”
“After not visiting the track in 2020 it will be nice to return to Mugello this year, riding a MotoGP bike down the straight there is something really unique. We will have to see how our bike is behaving there as it’s a very different circuit to where we have been. There will be a lot of competition this weekend, but if we work well throughout practice, I think we can be there and fighting. Then we have another race in Barcelona straight after, it’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks.”
The dark horses of consistency, Team Suzuki Ecstar, are excited for the weekend and no doubt Alex Rins wants a mistake free event and Joan Mir concerned about their lack of time to find the right set up. The engineers will be busy, Suzuki team personnel on call and both riders sharing as much insight to take on their fellow competitors on and off track. The slipstream is going to be an important factor for the Suzuki riders as they do lack top speed in comparison to the other manufacturers. With a World Champion on one bike and a very talented rider on the other, it is time for the Suzuki duo to tackle the front of the grid with precision. If anyone will profit from the poor results, Johann Zarco will be waiting especially with a Ducati machine to race. As one rider utilises his bike to the maximum, there are others out there utilising testing to improve. From a manufacturers perspective, KTM are turning up to the task and working to make progress. Both of their main riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder are praising the fuel and chassis changes. The new frame is helping both riders in the corners, whilst the fuel is providing extra speed and overall the combined changes are bringing a smile to the faces of the riders who have struggled to find form in 2021 after a dynamic season last year during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ETS Racing Fuels will become a valuable partner to the KTM team.
“Mugello is a track where often the Ducatis and Yamahas are quick, and maybe our top speed isn’t quite as high as theirs, but in 2019 Alex was able to do a great race here, so it means that our Suzukis can also be competitive. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s such a special track - it’s fast and so nice to ride. We’ll focus on getting the setup and the tyres sorted as early in the weekend as possible so that we can then switch our minds to trying to achieve a great result.”
“I can’t wait for this next race, because Mugello is a track that I really enjoy. We might have a little disadvantage on the long straight, but around the rest of the track I know we can be fast. I’m feeling optimistic, I’ve been working hard at home in Andorra since Le Mans and I feel very prepared, I love to ride here. I had a good result in 2019 and I want to bring another good result to all my team who really deserve it.”
With a race like Mugello, some will gamble, others will play a reserved strategy. We are excited to see how each team approaches the weekend and the riders input as to what is the best set up to ensure quality points, victory and a podium finish.Protect your Motorcycle. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.