Lorenzo returns to the front row in red

The five-time World Champion takes second at Mugello – denied pole by just 0.035

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) lines up as top Ducati for the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, taking second and denied pole by arch rival Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) to the tune of only 0.035 seconds. The result does, however, equal Lorenzo’s best qualifying in red – with the ‘Spartan’ previously having taken second at Catalunya and Aragon in 2017. Lorenzo is happy with the front row, even if it was tantalizingly close to some serious home glory for Ducati.

“It would be very nice to have my first pole with Ducati at our home race at Mugello,” begins the Spaniard, “but by just a little bit we couldn’t do it. But being on the front row is fantastic, it’s a great position for the start tomorrow.”

It is, and after a tough start to the year, it marks somewhat of a turnaround – as did taking the holeshot at Jerez and Le Mans, despite those races not finishing quite as the number ‘99’ would have wanted.

A lot of the progress of late, explains Lorenzo, is down to some key changes made.

“The feeling has improved a lot, especially with this new fuel tank. With much more support in the corners, I can save more energy and resist more with good pace. So this is a big difference, and also some more speed has given us these two tenths that bring us from the second and third row to the first row this time.”

Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team, Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley

With the grid so close together, every thousandth counts. So what of race day? The number 99 is optimistic but cautious about tyre choice.

“Let’s see, especially with the front tyre. Everyone is having some problems with the consistency of it. But if we can keep some consistency with the front tyre it’ll be a nice race for us. It’ll be hard to decide on the right one, and very important.”

Which will Lorenzo go for and can he get back on the rostrum in red? Find out tomorrow when the lights go out at 14:00 (GMT +2).