Ducati quartet chasing Mugello hat-trick

Can any of the Bologna factory riders make it a third consecutive victory for the marque on home soil?

After Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) and Jorge Lorenzo’s victories at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley over the past two years, Ducati now have four riders sat inside the first three rows of the grid confident of clinching the Bologna factory’s home hat-trick.

Mission Winnow Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci leads the charge from the front row with the Pramac Racing duo of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia not far behind, in fifth and eighth respectively, before Dovi is looking to sneak through under the radar from the outside of row three.

A poorly Petrux fought off his flu to break the lap record in FP3, although he admits showing his hand early brought with it some expectation: “I broke the lap record and everyone was saying ‘come on pole position today - 1:45 again, go faster and faster and faster’ and there was a lot of pressure. But anyway, I was able to manage it. I say in my mind maybe a 45.8 would be enough for pole position, I reached that target but the problem was Fabio and Marc went faster with incredible times.”

Still striving for his debut premier class win, the 28-year-old is expecting a fierce battle at the front, with tyre choice looking like the major issue for the top riders: “There are Marc and Fabio for tomorrow, but also other riders like Maverick, Jack and Dovi. There’s a lot of other riders, it’ll be tough to be on the podium.

“I don’t know which tyre to choose for tomorrow and this will be the key. I have to manage the tyres and my physical energy because I feel weak and not 100%. Mugello is always physical when you are OK so imagine when you are not OK. Hopefully the fans and all the public will help me.”

Meanwhile, after scraping through Q1, Dovizioso will start from outside of the front four for only the second time this season. Desmo Dovi has failed to finish inside the top eight of a session all weekend yet remains positive his search for a second win in three years isn’t over just yet.

“I’m quite happy actually because in Free Practice 4 and Q1 I found a better feeling, and that was the key,” said Dovi after taking ninth place on the grid. “The lap time was good, it was fast. Unfortunately, I didn’t put together a perfect lap in Q2 but we are there. I think for the race we are in the top group; the only question mark is the rear tyre choice for everybody.

“It’s a bit strange what’s happened this weekend because the consumption looks high, when normally in Mugello it’s not like this. Apart from that I can make a good start, gain some positions and fight at the top.”

Jack Miller has kept himself under the radar at Mugello despite finishing inside the top five at every opportunity. The Australian is another of the Ducati gang quietly confident of mounting a podium challenge: We’ve had good pace all weekend. The bike seems to be pretty strong. It’ll be interesting tomorrow to ride with people in the race as I’ve done a lot of my runs alone. I’m interested to see how much difference the slipstream will make and also how it’ll affect the tyres, whether it’ll heat it up or not.”

But you can’t discount Pecco Bagnaia out of the equation either. The rookie ended fastest on Friday and despite slipping further down the order on Saturday, the Moto2™ King is brimming with confidence after a career best premier class qualifying result.

“I’m happy but we need more, I need more traction on the exit, but we are finding the way. It’s the first time this year that I’ve felt very comfortable on the bike, which is very important. For tomorrow, the first objective is to finish the race, this is important, and then we will try to stay inside of the top ten.”

With three different manufacturers across the first row and second rows of the grid it’ll be a long way from the comfortable stroll to victory Lorenzo enjoyed twelve months ago, but the power of the Ducatis does look threatening ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

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