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MotoGP moves to Mugello with Rossi top of the mountain

MotoGP moves to Mugello with Rossi top of the mountain

With a home rider leading the way and a heavy schedule of European races to be completed, the MotoGP World Championship holds its next race in Mugello on June 1st, the Gran Premio d´Italia Alice.

With a home rider leading the way and a heavy schedule of European races to be completed, the MotoGP World Championship holds its next race in Mugello on June 1st, the Gran Premio d´Italia Alice.

Heading the MotoGP standings on 97 points, Fiat Yamaha´s Valentino Rossi arrives at one of his favourite tracks in perfect form. The Italian always receives a rapturous reception in Mugello, and has the standings advantage heading to his home race for the first time since 2005.

Winner of the past two Grands Prix this year, in Shanghai and Le Mans, the last time Rossi was able to win three-in-a-row was a Donington Park-Sachsenring-Brno treble in the summer of 2005. The odds are stacked in his favour: in an ominous sign for his premier class rivals, Rossi has won every 4-stroke MotoGP race held at Mugello.

One of the focal points of last year´s race was the heart on the top of Rossi´s special edition helmet, attention will instead switch to the ankles of teammate Jorge Lorenzo in the 2008 race. The Spaniard has experienced an astonishing start to his rookie season in MotoGP, and is riding with both ankles heavily damaged. Unable to stand up on the podium after his spectacular second place in Le Mans, the injured Lorenzo continues to defy the odds with his race displays.

Lorenzo trails Rossi by just 3 points in the World Championship classification, level with perennial rival Dani Pedrosa. The Fiat Yamaha man places higher than his Repsol Honda adversary by virtue of his finishing above Pedrosa in France, as the duo post identical results from the first five races.

Pedrosa played the bridesmaid to Rossi in last year´s battle of Mugello, and the 22 year-old has won just once before at the legendary track, in the 2005 250cc race. In Le Mans he missed out on the rostrum for the first time in 2008, ending the only 100% record still standing this season.

Whilst the Mugello visit comes at an ideal time for Rossi, Casey Stoner would probably prefer to be competing away from the championship leader´s home turf. The reigning World Champion has only placed on the podium at Mugello on a single occasion, finishing second behind Roberto Locatelli in a 125cc thriller. In Le Mans he finished outside the points for the first time since joining Ducati, suffering an engine problem that forced him into the pits, and the factory will be out to make amends at the track just a stone's throw from their Borgo Panigalle base.

Resurgent Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards lies fifth in the classification behind Stoner. For both he and the Australian, a win at Mugello would not be enough to take the World Championship lead, but would aid their cause no end at the expense of the fast-escaping top three.

Loris Capirossi will be competing in his first home race for Suzuki on June 1st, currently without a podium to his name in 2008. Also chasing a first rostrum of the year is sixth placed Nicky Hayden, JiR Team Scot Italian Andrea Dovizioso, Tech 3 Yamaha rookie James Toseland and San Carlo Honda Gresini veteran Shinya Nakano, all making up the remainder of the top ten.

A wildcard appearance will be made by 41 year-old Tadayuki Okada, returning for his first race since 2000 onboard a Honda RC212V. The Japanese rider will be making his 800cc debut, having last competed at Mugello with the 500cc Honda NSR500.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, GRAN PREMIO D'ITALIA ALICE

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