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Rainey on his 1991 win at Mugello

Rainey on his 1991 win at Mugello

Rainey on his 1991 win at Mugello

Valentino Rossi's memorable win at Mugello last year was the factory's first at the Italian racetrack since the legendary Wayne Rainey swept his YZR500 to victory at the twelfth round of the 1991 season. Rainey's win at the San Marino Grand Prix came at a crucial point of his first World Championship title defence and is fondly remembered by the Californian for the unique atmosphere generated by motorcycle fans in Italy.

"Racing in Italy is very special because the passion the Italians have for motorcycle racing is like nowhere else in the world," says Rainey. "I always felt that, unlike other nationalities that simply enjoy watching racing, the Italians actually understand what it is that we do.

"In particular, the atmosphere at Mugello is incredible. The paddock is set down in the valley and I remember lying awake in my motorhome at night because of the amount of noise they were making in the hills surrounding the circuit. I didn't care about losing sleep though – it just felt so neat to be a part of it!"

Whilst the huge crowds bank around the hills that surround the picturesque Mugello circuit, the track weaves and twists its way delightfully around the bottom of the valley and, Rainey remembers, it gave him the opportunity to escape from perennial pursuers Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan. The win also came at a crucial point of his first World Championship title defence, striking a psychological blow over the pair with just three rounds remaining.

"I always remember the track layout because it had so many uphill and downhill sections, which a lot of tracks didn't have at the time, and a very long straight where Kevin and Mick were able to catch me up! We were a bit down on top speed to them but the chassis and engine set-up we had were perfect and I was able to get away in the twisty sections.

"I won six races that season and when you are fighting for a championship they are all as valuable as each other, but the Mugello win definitely came at a good time. I think it gave the whole team a massive boost just when we needed it and probably damaged the psyche of my competitors too. It gave us confidence for the end of the season and I was able to retain the title by taking a win and a podium in the next two rounds. I was very proud to win a race at Mugello."


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