The Autodromo del Mugello is a mecca for motorcycle racing fans all over the world. Over 100,000 of some of the planets most passionate fans light up the beautifully picturesque Tuscan back drop, as they cast eyes on an equally beautiful combination of fast curves, slow bends and long straights. For Ducati though, this is also home.
As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. In 2017, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) couldn’t have felt more at home as he won the Italian GP, as an Italian, on Italian machinery. This was the first time this feat had been achieved since 1974, and it was the Bologna factory’s first Mugello win since Casey Stoner triumphed in 2009. Can Ducati’s 2018 homecoming be just as successful?
Dovizioso’s had an unforeseen difficult start to the season, but if he could come to a track to kick start his campaign, Mugello would almost certainly be one of them. His record at the Tuscan circuit is good, standing on the podium five times across all classes, twice in MotoGP™. If it’s not Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) who the Mugello crown want to win, then ‘DesmoDovi’ repeating his 2017 feat would be nearly as sweet.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo has an outstanding record at Mugello, winning five times in the premier class and boasts 10 Grand Prix podiums in total. Despite being unable to find the pace his teammate displayed on a track he’s dominated at in the past last year, Lorenzo will take confidence from leading in Jerez and Le Mans into Mugello. With seven podiums in the last eight years at the Italian GP, can the number 99 spray the champagne for the first time since Sepang 2017? It’s not the Spaniard’s home round, but getting his first Ducati win here would make it certainly feel like one.
Dovizioso and Lorenzo won’t be the only red Ducatis at Mugello though, as test rider Michele Pirro will be wildcarding on a track he knows like the back of his hand. The Italian has raced around this weekend’s venue on a Desmosedici machine since 2013, earning four top ten finishes in five years. Therefore, Pirro poses a serious threat around Mugello, finishing just half a second behind Lorenzo in last year’s race. Can he fight for a top six finish to add another Italian into the mix on home soil?