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Atmospheric Mugello awaits MotoGP riders for Gran Premio d'Italia Alice

Atmospheric Mugello awaits MotoGP riders for Gran Premio d'Italia Alice

The first third of the 2007 MotoGP season will conclude on Sunday 3rd of June at Mugello, with the sixth race of the year, the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice.

The first third of the 2007 MotoGP season will conclude on Sunday 3rd of June at Mugello, with the sixth race of the year, the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice. The race is renowned for its classic action and some of the most fervent fans in the world, and on the basis of what has been seen at the opening five races the latest visit to Italy should be no exception.

The tremendous competitiveness of the riders on their new 800cc bikes mean that anyone is in with a chance of taking victory at Mugello. A number of riders achieved their best ever results at the rain-soaked previous round at Le Mans, including first time race winner Chris Vermeulen, Pramac d'Antin's Alex Hofmann and 2007 rookie Sylvain Guintoli, who led a MotoGP race for the very first time at his home circuit.

The championship standings have Casey Stoner on top of the pile riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP7. The Australian has been as exciting as ever this season, with the added bonus of a consistency and maturity that was perhaps lacking last year. The 21 year old has rarely had to push his bike to the limit in order to make up places in 2007, having led more laps than any other rider, and can only improve as the season goes on. He has won 3 of the opening five races, and has only been off the podium on one solitary occasion.

Stoner leads the way by 21 points from Valentino Rossi, the five time MotoGP World Champion. Rossi is on home soil at Mugello, and with a point to prove after being outwitted by Stoner in Shanghai and experiencing tyre problems at Le Mans. The Italian has always been a big game performer, and has won the last five races at Mugello in varying conditions. He is also assured of the vocal support of the Italian fans, who have a specially dedicated grandstand at the circuit from which to cheer on their idol.

Dani Pedrosa lies in third in the classification, forty points behind former 250cc rival Stoner and 19 behind Rossi. The 2006 Rookie of the Year has eleven points less on the board than last year, and is currently on his longest ever winless streak since his first 125cc victory in 2002. With both himself and Honda chasing a first 800cc win, Pedrosa could be a dangerous challenger to the top two at Mugello.

Second place in France has kickstarted Marco Melandri's 2007 campaign, with the Italian showing himself to be a master of the flag-to-flag race. Melandri is always in with a chance of victory when on top form, and knows Mugello very well indeed. A consistent run of podium finishes could bring him right back into the thick of the title battle, although a few problems that he has been experiencing with the Honda RC212V will have to be resolved before Melandri is fully at ease on the 800cc bike.

Chris Vermeulen's victory at Le Mans signalled his first victory in MotoGP, and is the pinnacle of Rizla Suzuki's achievements since their setup was changed under Team Manager Paul Denning. The GSV-R is proving to be a highly competitive bike, further illustrated by fifth placed overall rider John Hopkins, who has come of age this season with his first MotoGP podium.

Olivier Jacque is expected to return for Kawasaki at Mugello, having been forced to sit out the race in France due to an arm injury. Another rider making his return, after a long absence from MotoGP action, is Kurtis Roberts riding for his father's Team Roberts outfit alongside brother Kenny. The team hope that Kurtis' inclusion will help them further develop the struggling KR212V.

Jorge Lorenzo continues to lead the 250cc World Championship, 32 points ahead of his nearest rival as he looks to defend his title. The Spaniard has just one solitary blotch on his record in 2007 –the Grand Prix of Turkey- where he took second on the grid and in the race. Apart from his visit to Istanbul, Lorenzo has been top dog at every race so far this season, winning from pole and putting his flag in the ground to signify his conquering of four circuits on the quarter litre calendar.

Andrea Dovizioso is the only rider to have impeded Lorenzo's progress this season, and is a consistent podium finisher. Normally this would be enough for him to keep touch with the series leader, but Lorenzo has been simply outstanding this year. The Kopron Team Scot rider will be hoping to close the gap with a win at his home circuit, which is sure to be an epic battle between this season's talented 250cc field. Alex de Angelis and Alvaro Bautista, the third and fourth placed riders, have also provided more than their fair share of excitement battling for victory, with Hector Barbera and Julian Simon completing the top six in the standings.

The 125cc class has seen no rider take charge so far this year, with a different rider on the top step of the podium at every race. The most recent rider to take glory has been Sergio Gadea, who took his maiden World Championship victory at Le Mans, whilst series leader Lukas Pesek had his moment in the sun at China two weeks previous. Pesek leads the way by nine points from Gabor Talmacsi, having taken second in France to extend his advantage.

Hector Faubel lies just five points behind his Bancaja Aspar team-mate in third place, ahead of race winner in Turkey Simone Corsi. The top five in 125cc have all won races, with Gadea rounding off the first quintet, although one rider who really should have more to show than just six points on the board is Mattia Pasini. The Italian has been plagued by mechanical problems, and has finished just one race despite qualifying on pole for the last four races.

The Gran Premio d'Italia Alice takes place on Sunday June 3rd, with practice for the race kicking off on the preceeding Friday.

Located 30km north-east of Florence in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, Mugello is a modern circuit with excellent facilities. Bought by Ferrari back in 1988, the 5.245km track has been renovated to a high standard and has a growing reputation as one of the world´s most up-to-date, scenic and safest race circuits. A blend of slow and fast turns with sweeping curves, long straights and off-camber corners make Mugello one of the most challenging circuits for the riders and engineers. Having hosted its first MotoGP event back in 1976 the venue became a permanent fixture in 1991 after extensive refurbishment. Set within a beautiful tree lined Tuscan valley, Mugello also offers ample viewing areas for a particularly boisterous and partisan Italian crowd.


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