The hills around Mugello resounded with celebration and cheer as Valentino Rossi drafted past his soon to be teammate Maverick Vinales to claim pole at the Italian GP. Vinales had to be content with second place on the grid after having been outwitted by Rossi, being just 0.094s slower. The prospect of Andrea Iannone claiming a second successive pole at Mugello seemed a very real possibility, with the typically hard charging Italian schooling the others all the way into FP4. The late charge by Vinales and Rossi relegated him to third. Marquez expectedly found the going tough, wrestling his anaemic Honda to fourth place. Lorenzo failed to get all the things lined up just the way he liked them and slotted in behind Marquez. Aleix Espargaro once again proved competitive, taking sixth on the grid ahead of struggling mini-alien Dani Pedrosa.

Valentino Rossi Mugello 2016

The main talking points for speculators are thus- who will make the best start, who will get the tires to work the best, who will have the best lines and who is the most cunning. Valentino Rossi ticks most of those boxes. He himself has admitted to the need to improve his starts and qualify higher up. He has gotten one in the bag and may very well get the second too. The possibilities abound, with pride and position at stake. Will Iannone rocket ahead on his swift steed to the lead? Will Lorenzo get ahead and check out? Will Rossi be unchallenged for the duration of the race? Will Marquez awe us by keeping the other aliens at bay to win? Will someone take them out? We can only wonder.

The Mugello GP this time around is of great consequence for a few reasons. First, it will reveal whether Lorenzo and Marquez can offer a rebuttal to Rossi and his adoring fans, or if Rossi will have the last laugh in full view of all Italy, forever being vindicated. Second, it will offer a chance for Ducati and their riders to redeem themselves at home. Third, the winner of this GP will have the psychological edge going into Catalunya, Lorenzo’s home turf. Lorenzo’s mental fortitude has been called into question many a time, with the public having the impression he can be bogged down by small insults and petty problems. We can be sure Lorenzo will want to avenge the booing he has faced for some time now, preferably giving the finger to the Italians by destroying Rossi. If he doesn’t, he may very well be destroyed at Catalunya in turn. The championship just got real.

MotoGP Mugello 2016 Qualifying results

Qualifying 2:
1. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 46.504s [Lap 7/8] 340km/h (Top Speed)
2. Maverick Viñales ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 46.598s +0.094s [7/7] 340km/h
3. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 46.607s +0.103s [5/8] 347km/h
4. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 46.759s +0.255s [2/7] 341km/h
5. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 46.882s +0.378s [8/8] 340km/h
6. Aleix Espargaro ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 47.186s +0.682s [6/6] 340km/h
7. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 47.218s +0.714s [7/8] 342km/h
8. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 47.247s +0.743s [9/9] 339km/h
9. Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 47.261s +0.757s [6/7] 349km/h
10. Scott Redding GBR Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 47.359s +0.855s [5/6] 345km/h
11. Michele Pirro ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 47.361s +0.857s [6/6] 346km/h
12. Yonny Hernandez COL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 47.436s +0.932s [7/7] 346km/h

Qualifying 1:
13. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 47.089s 348km/h
14. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 47.159s 339km/h
15. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 47.555s 343km/h
16. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 1m 47.659s 335km/h
17. Jack Miller AUS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V) 1m 47.830s 335km/h
18. Eugene Laverty IRL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 48.111s 345km/h
19. Alvaro Bautista ESP Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 48.372s 331km/h
20. Stefan Bradl GER Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 48.646s 336km/h
21. Loris Baz FRA Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 48.991s 339km/h
Tito Rabat ESP Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V)- Broke his collarbone in FP3, ruled out of the GP