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25 days ago
By motogp.com

Morbidelli marches onto home territory at Mugello

After another win at Le Mans, it’s home race time for the Championship leader

EG 0,0 Marc VDS are on a 100% win rate in 2017, but so far the man with the best hand has proved Franco Morbidelli. His four victories as the paddock arrives to round six – including Le Mans last time out, a track that usually favours key rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) – make for ominous reading for the rest of the grid as his home race appears on the horizon.

Morbidelli was pushed all the way in France, however. After a first podium in the intermediate class in Jerez for Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Le Mans showed it was no one off performance -  ‘Pecco’ battled for pole and then kept the Championship leader honest in an impressive cat-and-mouse. Rookie he may be, but Bagnaia will want to continue establishing himself as a frontrunner at Mugello in his home GP.

The rider who won one of his home races so far this year – and the only man to have stopped Morbidelli – is the points leader’s teammate Alex Marquez. Suffering a small fracture in his foot after a highside on Saturday at Le Mans, France was an impressive performance nonetheless to come home fourth. With more time to recuperate ahead of the Italian GP, it could well still be EG 0,0 Marc VDS taking the win, but on the other side of the garage.

Tom Lüthi has an excellent record at Le Mans and took a podium, but the Swiss veteran will have wanted more. After showing fantastic form in races earlier in the season where the 2016 runner up traditionally found life more difficult, this season could be a different script overall – and there’s no reason why the CarXpert Interwetten rider won’t try and strike back quick.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was a rider who suffered in France, coming home outside the points after going into round five with a 50% podium record. He’ll want to leap back up the timesheets, as will Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who was seventh at Le Mans.

Forward Racing Team have an even bigger bounce back to contend with at Mugello, after neither Luca Marini nor Lorenzo Baldassarri finished in France. Both the team and riders’ home race, they will be looking for much more at the Italian GP – and Baldassarri missed the win last year by only 0.030.

Moto2™ head out at Mugello on Friday at 10:55 (GMT +2), before racing on Sunday at 12:20.

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