Two podiums from the first five races wasn’t the ideal start to 2018 the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team would have been looking for, but can they turn a corner at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley?
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will be hoping he can fight for a win at Mugello, something he hasn’t managed to achieve in front of his fiercely passionate supporters since 2008. That’s a record he’ll want to change and the nine-time World Champion says he comes into round six feeling relaxed, after finishing on the podium last time out in Le Mans. “It's great to have scored a podium in Le Mans, before Mugello. In general, it's good to be on the podium before any race, because the ten days before the next race you're not angry. To arrive in Mugello feeling relaxed is better.”
Rossi though is wary about his and the M1's pace in the Tuscan hills, with testing not going according to plan earlier this month at the venue. “I was feeling optimistic about the race in Mugello before the test there a few weeks ago, but during the test we were not as fast as we wanted to be.”
Meanwhile, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is looking to bounce back after a difficult weekend in Le Mans, finishing P7 on a circuit he and the Yamahas were so convincing at in 2017. The Spaniard, despite climbing up to second in the Championship, admits the team are working through a difficult time, “We’re working through a difficult time. We lost some very important points for the championship in the earlier rounds but, even so, we won’t give up and we’ll continue working hard to get results in the races to come.”
Since Le Mans, the former Moto3™ World Champion has tested at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where he and the team found “good feelings”. That’s good news then for Viñales, who heads to a circuit he’s particularly fond of, “Mugello is a track that I like and where I've always had a lot of fun, and it's perfect for my riding style.”
Rossi's seven straight win record between 2002 and 2008 speaks for itself, while Viñales has stood on the Italian GP podium four times in all classes, including a P2 finish last year. Will there be Italian delight for either of the factory Yamaha riders this weekend?