Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo caught and passed Casey Stoner to claim a brilliant victory in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
Lorenzo, Yamaha’s reigning MotoGP world champion, took on and beat two factory Hondas, having spent the first half of the race fighting Stoner’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso for second.
That looked like the maximum Lorenzo could achieve – with Stoner a ‘safe’ two-seconds clear – but Lorenzo suddenly began taking chunks out of the Australian’s lead just after the halfway stage.
Lorenzo then dived inside Stoner through the middle of a right-left turn with six laps to go and went on to win by 0.997sec. And it wasn’t Stoner in second, but delighted home star Dovizioso, who passed the world championship leader at the start of the last lap.
A disappointed Stoner, who attributed his loss of speed to his tyres overheating, is now a reduced 19 points in front of Lorenzo after eight of 18 rounds.
Fourth place went to Lorenzo’s American team-mate and last weekend’s Assen winner Ben Spies, who overtook San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli on the final lap. Simoncelli had been a podium contender during the first half of the race, but dropped away in the second.
Italy’s Valentino Rossi began his first home race as a Ducati rider from just 12th on the grid after struggling to make the new Desmosedici GP11.1 work as he would like around a circuit he was unbeaten at from 2002-2008.
Rossi, who broke his leg in practice for last year’s race, worked his way steadily forwards to finish in a lonely sixth place, 17 seconds behind Simoncelli.
‘The Doctor’ was the top Ducati rider, with team-mate Nicky Hayden finishing the first lap in sixth, but the running through the gravel at turn one and returning to the track 16th and last.
The American recovered to tenth in a race that saw just one rider, rookie Cal Crutchlow, fail to finish. Crutchlow pitted with front tyre problems, for the second race in a row.
Aspar Ducati rider Hector Barbera provided stubborn resistance to Rossi and, after being passed, finished just over two-seconds behind Rossi.
Fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, returning to MotoGP action after missing the last three races due to a broken collarbone in the Le Mans accident, claimed eighth, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Coin Edwards finishing just ahead of Hayden in ninth.
Pramac Ducati’s Loris Capirossi missed his home event after being injured in qualifying for last weekend’s Assen round. Capirossi will be replaced by Sylvain Guintoli for the next two events.
The German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring takes place in two weeks’ time.
RESULTS from Mugello, the 8th round of 18 in this season’s MotoGP competition:
1. Jorge Lorenzo, ESP, Yamaha Factory Racing 41m 50.089s
2. Andrea Dovizioso, ITA, Repsol Honda 41m 51.086s
3. Casey Stoner, AUS, Repsol Honda 41m 51.232s
4. Ben Spies, USA, Yamaha Factory Racing 41m 59.069s
5. Marco Simoncelli, ITA, San Carlo Honda Gresini 41m 59.165s
6. Valentino Rossi, ITA, Ducati Marlboro 42m 16.539s
7. Hector Barbera, ESP, Mapfre Aspar 42m 18.834s
8. Dani Pedrosa, ESP, Repsol Honda 42m 22.132s
9. Colin Edwards, USA, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 42m 23.510s
10. Nicky Hayden, USA, Ducati Marlboro 42m 24.813s
11. Hiroshi Aoyama, JPN, San Carlo Honda Gresini 42m 27.448s
12. Karel Abraham, CZE, Cardion AB Motoracing 42m 34.053s
13. Alvaro Bautista, ESP, Rizla Suzuki 42m 37.743s
14. Randy de Puniet, FRA, Pramac Racing 42m 38.929s
15. Toni Elias, ESP, LCR Honda 43m 5.288s
Cal Crutchlow, GBR, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1. Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team, 152
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, 133
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda Team, 119
4. Valentino Rossi, Ducati Marlboro Team, 91
5. Nicky Hayden, Ducati Marlboro Team, 77
6. Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing, 74
7. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team, 69
8. Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 56
9. Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 53
10. Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 50
11. Héctor Barberá, Mapfre Aspar Team, 44
12. Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing, 37
13. Toni Elías, LCR Honda MotoGP, 35
14. Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 32
15. Álvaro Bautista, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 30
16. Loris Capirossi, Pramac Racing Team, 22
17. Randy de Puniet, Pramac Racing Team, 12
18. John Hopkins, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 6
19. Kousuke Akiyoshi, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 3