It is finally time for the annual Mugello madness, and this time it promises to be a rather insane affair. A series of riders swapping factories has led to heated discussions and much gossip everywhere. The Doctor’s many nurses threaten to swarm and harm Marquez and Lorenzo, who in their eyes must yet stand trial for conspiring and snatching away what should have been the Italian icon’s tenth title, based on Rossi’s accusations and the ensuing drama late into the 2015 season.
Dorna has gone to the extent of offering bodyguards for Marquez and Lorenzo. Marquez has denied the offer, confident his genial personality and lightning reflexes will help him avoid any race boots thrown his way. Lorenzo has more wisely considered protection outside the paddock. Casey stoner, familiar with the wrath of the yellow brigade, has appealed to Rossi to ask his fans to stand down. All this is not even the important stuff, with the focus being on the factories’ making their picks for next season public.
Maverick Vinales has finally found the clarity of mind to take over Lorenzo’s M1 Yamaha. Rossi has welcomed him with open arms, but the young Spaniard will be wise to remember the long list of riders who crossed Rossi and lost. The maniacal Andrea Iannone has taken over Vinales seat at Suzuki in turn, an announcement that came speedily after the #25 departed for Yamaha. This seems to have rattled Aleix Espargaro, who was heartbroken at meaning so little to Suzuki after developing the bike for so long. He too may now be shown the door to make place for Rins, Zarco or any other quicker rider. Lorenzo in turn was glad to have the sedate and loveable Andrea Dovizioso as his teammate, confident that the more level headed of the Andreas would not torpedo his debut season on the Ducati.
Pramac Ducati would be wise to retain their hotshot riders Redding and Petrucci, who have shown sparks of brilliance and could be valuable factory pickings in the future. Most surprising of all has been Irishman Eugene Laverty, who has ridden Aspar’s primitive Ducati GP 14.2 in a most excellent manner. He is sure to get the right kind of attention in the future. His teammate Yohnny Hernandez on the other hand, must immediately get his act together or find himself without a GP ride next season.
KTM are yet to fill their second spot alongside Smith, and Aprilia have been mum about who will partner Sam Lowes for 2017. The future of other satellite riders such as Avintia Ducati’s Loris Baz and Hector Barbera yet hang in the balance. The much vaunted Jack Miller who was promoted to MotoGP directly from Moto3 has yet to finish higher than 11th. However, he is responsible for a fair number of crash-damaged bikes that Honda had to pick up the cheque for, which could be a major factor in what Honda decides to do with him. Tito Rabat is another unknown, given his struggle to find his feet in the premier class.
Yamaha will be looking for another 1-2, preferably with Rossi on the top step of the podium. Rossi will be looking to win at his home GP for the first time since 2008. Lorenzo will be looking to take a dump in Rossi’s backyard by winning at Mugello and shutting up the VR46 fan club. Marquez faces the prospect of flogging his asthmatic Honda around the fast and flowing track to try and thwart the Yamahas. We may witness further examples of his divine skill and talent, or another cloud of dust and a totalled Repsol Honda somewhere on the track. Dani Pedrosa can focus on getting his Honda somewhere on the podium now that Honda have magnanimously given him another two years aboard a factory bike to try and win that elusive MotoGP title. DucatI Corse will be praying for one of their riders to be atop the podium in front of the home crowd. Dovi will be praying he finishes the race, and Iannone will likely wreak mayhem as he charges forward. Various riders headed by Crutchlow will be determined to see the chequered flag and avoid getting their heads stuck in the gravel yet again.
The MotoGP faithful can look forward to a terribly exciting race weekend that will have a substantial amount of Italian seasoning upon it. With giant egos making pricks of many, the ensuing clash on the track should leave us all content and satisfied. A historic battle like Catalunya 2009 will be a most appropriate thing for Mugello to witness come Sunday. Until then, we wait and watch.