The MotoGP classes produced three hard-fought races for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello at the weekend, with Yamaha Factory team leader Jorge Lorenzo storming to a dominant victory in the premier class, ahead of Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso of the Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team.
Pedrosa led into Turn 1 but Lorenzo soon got past into the lead as the field jockeyed for position on lap one. Andrea Dovizioso also pushed past Pedrosa, as Ducati's Nicky Hayden and Honda privateer Stefan Bradl dispute d fourth.
Works Honda team leader Casey Stoner, the only rider to use the special construction rear hard tyre, did not have a great start, and had to fight his way past Ducati privateer Héctor Barberá to make up positions.
Three laps in, Pedrosa was all over Dovizioso like a rash as Lorenzo started to pull out a small gap at the front. Ducati team leader Valentino Rossi had fought his way up to seventh, much to the delight of the home crowd, but wasn't having an easy ride as Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow was looking for a way past.
By lap nine Stoner's tyres had come up to temperature, and he pushed past Hayden into fifth. A lap later Bradl put in a brave move on Dovizioso in Turn 1 to grab third, followed up by big drama as Stoner ran off into the gravel, managing to keep the bike upright and re-joining in 10th.
With eight laps remaining the grid had spread out, although Crutchlow was still dicing with Rossi. A lap later Stoner caught up to Honda privateer Álvaro Bautista and put in an aggressive move, pushing Bautista wide and moving up into ninth.
The final three laps provided more excitement as Dovizioso went past Bradl on the brakes into Turn 3 while Hayden, and the pursuing duo of Rossi and Crutchlow closed in on the podium battle. Hayden got past Bradl on the last lap but Bradl was having none of it and fought back, pushing Hayden wide and letting Rossi through into fifth, with Crutchlow also taking advantage to nip into sixth.
Lorenzo's win increased his lead in the championship to 19 points, with 185 to Pedrosa's 166 and Stoner's 148 - but the happiest man on the day was Bradl, as he recorded his best finish yet in the premier class.
Marc Márquez (Suter) got the hole shot, hotly pursued by Pol Espargaró (Kalex) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3). By the end of lap two veteran Alex de Angelis (FTR) and Max Neukirchner (Kalex) had crashed out while Kalex rider Takaaki Nakagami pushed Thomas Lüthi's Suter to grab the lead.
At half-distance Espargaró challenged Márquez with a move and then went past Nakagami into second. A couple of laps later Epargaro and Lüthi banged fairings as Espargaro grabbed the lead.
Andrea Iannone (Speed Up) moved up in the closing stages and took Espargaro going into Turn 1 for the last time, just holding the advantage to win by 0.090sec with Lüthi taking the final place on the rostrum.
Smith and Márquez completed the top five, leaving Márquez still 34 points clear at the top of the championship ahead of Espargaró and Iannone, who were level on points.
There was drama early on as Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) crashed out on lap two, almost taking out KTM rider Danny Kent. Romano Fenati (FTR Honda) started his charge on lap three, taking the lead from KTM’s Sandro Cortese.
By lap 12 a group of seven riders had formed at the front, constantly swopping places; a lap later Viñales moved up into the lead and tried to pull out a gap, but Cortese and Suter Honda rider Alex Rins stuck with him as Fenati moved up to join the leading group The front three were nearly wheel-to-wheel heading into the final lap with Fenati in the lead, yet it was Viñales who led on to the home straight and won the sprint to the line to take the chequered flag by just 0.02sec from Fenati and Cortese.
Cortese retained the championship lead, although Viñales had cut it to only nine points.
RESULTS – MOTOGP
1 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha – 41min37.477
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda +5.223sec
3 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Yamaha +10.665
4 Stefan Bradl (Germany) +10.711
5 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati +11.695
6 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha +12.060
7 Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati +12.235
8 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda +30.617
9 Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati +31.728
10 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda +34.589
11 Ben Spies (US) Yamaha +57.862
12 Randy de Puniet (France) ART +59.963
13 Aleix Espargaro (Spain) ART +1min11.200
14 James Ellison (Britain) ART +1min11.458
15 Mattia Pasini (Italy) ART +1min11.828
16 Ivan Silva (Spain) BQR +1 lap
1 Andrea Iannone (Italy) Speed Up – 39min52.523
2 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Kalex +0.090sec
3 Thomas Luthi (Switzerland) Suter +0.897
4 Bradley Smith (Britain) Tech 3 +1.025
5 Marc Marquez (Spain) Suter +3.795
6 Scott Redding (Britain) Kalex +3.911
7 Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) Kalex +4.425
8 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) Suter +11.366
9 Claudio Corti (Italy) Kalex +12.817
10 Johann Zarco (France) Motobi +13.031
1 Maverick Vinales (Spain) FTR Honda – 39min57.374
2 Romano Fenati (Italy) FTR Honda +0.020sec
3 Sandro Cortese (Germany) KTM +0.071
4 Niccolo Antonelli (Italy) FTR Honda +5.788
5 Danny Kent (Britain) KTM +5.836
6 Efren Vazquez (Spain) FTR Honda +5.860
7 Alex Rins (Spain) Suter Honda +5.906
8 Jakub Kornfeil (Czech Republic) FTR Honda +18.195
9 Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Malaysia) KTM +19.232
10 Hector Faubel (Spain) Kalex KTM +19.308