The stakes are getting higher for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP at round six of the MotoGP World Championship. The team aim to bring their A-game to Italy for their first home Grand Prix of the season, held at the Autodromo del Mugello this weekend.Maverick Viñales is looking to bounce back from a difficult race weekend in Le Mans, France, with full force. The Spaniard was pleased with the progress made during last week's test in Montmeló, Spain, and is eager to keep the momentum going at the Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley. He hopes to decrease the gap to the leader in the championship standings, now that he has climbed up to second place.
The number 25 rider has a lot confidence arriving at the Tuscan circuit. So far, he has stood on the podium at the Italian GP on four occasions, having secured a win in 2012 (Moto3), a second place in 2017 (MotoGP) and two third places in 2011 (125cc) and 2013 (Moto3).
Local hero Valentino Rossi is also looking forward to putting on a show for the Italian crowd. Fresh from a third place at the Grand Prix de France, held a fortnight ago, the fans' favourite has moved up to fourth place in the championship rankings, and he's motivated to make further progress this weekend at a circuit that is very special to him.
The Doctor holds a record of seven back-to-back premier class victories at Mugello (from 2002 to 2008), and he also scored three MotoGP third places (in 2009, 2014 and 2015), a 250cc win (in 1999) and a second place (in 1998), and a 125cc win (in 1997). Besides seeing their hero in action, the spectators can also expect a special helmet design, as done each year by the Italian to show his appreciation for their support.
The winding 5.2 km circuit of Mugello is located 30km north-east of Florence. It hosted its first MotoGP event back in 1976 and became a permanent fixture in 1991 after extensive refurbishment. The track is dearly beloved amongst riders, engineers and fans because of its high-energy levels during a race weekend. The Italian GP draws in thousands of enthusiastic spectators who live and breathe motorsports and enjoy the great views the circuit offers of its fast and slow turns, longest straight and various uphill and downhill sections.
Maverick Viñales - Championship: 2nd – Points: 59"We're working our way 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 good results in the races to come. I've climbed up to second in the championship and that motivates me to keep working hard. After the difficult race in Le Mans we went to Montmeló for a test and there I felt good again with my bike, I had good feelings. Step-by-step we will get back to the top. 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. We face the Italian Grand Prix optimistically and eager to find the perfect set-up for our bike. I'll try to fight for the victory, as I've always done in each race. I will give my 100% and will try not to disappoint our fans."
Valentino Rossi - Championship: 4th – Points: 56"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. 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. During this weekend we need to give more. We need to improve the bike and try our best."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director"Mugello is very special to our team because it's the first home race of the season. Besides the fantastic fan support we get here, it's a beautiful circuit and in the past our bike suited the track's lay-out very well, so this all adds to the excitement. Both our riders also have a soft spot for this venue, and after the positive test we had in Montmeló last week we are all ready to give it our best shot again this weekend. It's really important to start working in the right direction from the first session, because the competition is fierce. The Grands Prix in Mugello are always tough races, but we will work hard to be ready for the fight on Sunday!"
Zarco and Syahrin Prepared for Demanding Italian ChallengeThe Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo lands in Italy impatiently this weekend for the sixth round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.
Following his fabulous pole position in front of his home crowd, an unlucky end during the French Grand Prix and a very fruitful test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Johann Zarco is ready to fight back aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1, although the 27-year-old is aware of the fact that the 1.141 kilometer straight of the Autodromo del Mugello won't play into his hands. Yet, Zarco is eager to convince with his incredible determination and his extraordinary way of hard work.
Meanwhile, MotoGP rookie Hafizh Syahrin, who experimented with his machine at the one-day Michelin test in Barcelona in order to get an even better feeling, is eager to get out the best of his regained fitness and his M1. In doing so, the Malaysian aims to reclaim the top rookie spot, kicking off his intense program in the first session of the weekend at 9.55 local time on Friday.
Johann Zarco - Championship: 3rd – Points: 58"Mugello is a fast and very nice track. Last year I was struggling there, but this season I control the bike much better and overall, after that bad Sunday in Le Mans I want to get back to good results and many points in the championship, which is very important. I think I learned a lot in Le Mans, even with the crash, so I arrive in Italy with high motivation and happiness because also the test we did in Barcelona was pretty good and I think we have great opportunities to manage the bike in order to fight with the top guys for the podium."
Hafizh Syahrin - Championship: 17th – Points: 13"As usual, I look very much forward to the next round. For sure, my rookie competitors like Morbidelli are highly motivated to do well in Italy, but so am I. We had a productive test in Montmelo, I get along better and better with the bike and we also tried some small things, which gave me more confidence. I'll give my best for the team and myself. The track in Mugello is very big, as I'm arriving there for the first time with the GP bike, I'll try to understand this layout as quick as possible. We know, that the circuit is a very fast one, which requires a very good top speed, so we will try to have a good setup to be ready in FP1 and attempt to get closer to the top with each session. My physical condition is very good and I'm training truly hard in order to challenge all the premier class riders. We'll see what happens, when we arrive."
Hervé Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager"The French GP is over and I believe it's good having this event behind us. Johann did the perfect weekend until Saturday night and I'd like to thank him again for what he did. Unfortunately, the pressure was too big on Sunday and he couldn't finalize what we were all hoping for. It was a tough weekend, so it was quite good to have a very constructive test session with a new layout and new asphalt in Barcelona, plus some days off afterwards. I spent four days riding off road in Corsica and it was amazing. If the Grand Prix guys don't know this place, they definitely need to have a look. Coming back to the serious things, Mugello is a tough track for us and was pretty difficult last year as we couldn't have the weekend we wanted. We didn't test there and we know, that there are a many Ducati bikes on the starting grid, which clearly will be fast there. Anyway, we'll give our maximum as usual. It's a beautiful circuit, the Italian fans are always unbelievably hot and if the weather is nice, it will be a great GP weekend. Regarding Monster Yamaha Tech3, Johann can work with less pressure and with the will to come back in the championship. For Hafizh, the test in Spain was very important, as he needs more laps than anybody else. He ended the French round as the best rookie, an effort that makes us really happy. I hope both, Johann and Hafizh can match their target this weekend. Tuscany is waiting for us and we won't make them wait too long."