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Randy Mamola ready for the passion of Mugello

Randy Mamola ready for the passion of Mugello

Randy Mamola ready for the passion of Mugello

It feels strange to have a two week break so early in the season, and after such an electrifying start to the MotoGP campaign, I for one can't wait for it to get going again at Mugello next week.

I was lucky enough to have a little taster of what awaits us in Italy when I went to World Ducati Week for the first time at Misano last week. If there is anybody out there who has thought about going to WDW before but hasn't quite made it, then make sure you get there for 2006 because it is an awesome event and is another example of the passion that the Italians have for motorcycles.

That same passion lit up the MotoGP World Championship last year when Ducati returned to Grand Prix racing and it is a real shame and a disappointment that Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss haven't been able to repeat their performances on the 2004 bikes. However, there were signs at Le Mans, when Loris and Troy both qualified and finished in the top ten, that all their hard work is starting to pay off and I for one would love to see them take a starring role at their ‘home' Grand Prix.

An even bigger disappointment than Ducati so far this season has been the performance of Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards, and I mean that by their own high standards. Both Nicky and Colin looked very good in preseason and perhaps created a little bit of expectation and pressure that they haven't yet lived up to.

It seems to me that since the ‘real' season has started, the bar has been raised by Sete Gibernau, Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi and neither Nicky, Colin or their factory colleague Alex Barros have stepped up their game accordingly.

There has been a lot of talk all season about which HRC parts are going where but, as far as I am concerned, until I see one Honda pass another with a clear advantage down the straight, it is all about what the team and the rider can get out of their bike.

Okay, there may be slight advantages or disadvantages in the engine mapping or whatever, but at the end of the day if the team can get the ideal set-up for their rider at a particular circuit, there is no reason why any of those six factory Hondas shouldn't be competing for victories.

Proof of that was Max Biaggi's performance in South Africa. It is pretty much common knowledge that, at that stage of the season at least, Max was not getting much support from HRC. But his team got the most out of their bike and out of their rider and Max was able to put on one of the best performances you are likely to see this season alongside his great rival Valentino Rossi.

As far as Rossi is concerned, it was kind of nice to see him off the podium again at Le Mans. Now don't take that the wrong way, and it's nothing against Valentino, but we will see him on the podium plenty of times again this season, make no mistake about that. I was just pleased to see Carlos Checa take his place, if you like, alongside Gibernau and Biaggi.

There's no doubt that Le Mans is a Checa track, it all looked to come so easy to him there last week, but hopefully his second place has really lifted that side of the Yamaha garage and we can see another good performance from him at Mugello.

However, unless Yamaha can come up with something pretty special from their engine then I think both Rossi and Checa might struggle. Mugello demands a lot of mid-range power and top speed, which both Honda and Ducati have in abundance, whilst the Yamaha at the moment is still a little bit behind in that department. It will be interesting to see if they pull a new spec engine out of the bag in Italy.

Whatever happens, Mugello is sure to bring out the racing spirit in all of us – none more so than at Ducati, the epitome of Italian passion. They have lost their way a little bit in 2004, but I can think of no better place for them to find it again than in their own backyard.

MotoGP, 2004

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