Dominant Morbidelli heads home to Mugello
Franco Morbidelli heads into this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello looking to extend his lead in the Moto2 World Championship with a fifth win in front of his home crowd.
The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider has dominated the Moto2 World Championship so far this season, taking victory in four of the five races, including last time out in Le Mans, to give him a 20-point advantage over Thomas Lüthi at the top of the standings.
Morbidelli finished eighth in a 10-lap sprint at Mugello 12 months ago, after the race was restarted following a red flag, but this year the 22-year-old Italian heads to the iconic Autodromo del Mugello with his sights once again set firmly on the top step of the podium and another maximum points haul.
The only rider other than Morbidelli to secure a race win this season is his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate, Álex Márquez, who took victory in front of his home fans at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.
Despite fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in a free practice crash Márquez secured a hard fought fourth place finish last time out in Le Mans, which saw him move up to third in the championship standings, just 18 points behind Lüthi and 38 points adrift of series leader Morbidelli.
The short time between races means that the foot injury hasn't yet healed fully, but Márquez is confident that it won't be an issue on the bike this weekend in Mugello, where he's aiming to deny his teammate a fifth win in front of his home crowd.
“It would be wrong to say that Mugello is just another race, because it's far from that. For the first time this season we are racing in Italy in front of my home crowd and you can feel them pushing you, especially when you're on track. What is true though is that our approach to this race will be the same as for every other race, as we know this works and it's won us a lot of races this season. The approach will be important this weekend as Mugello is a fast track, with many fast changes of direction; it's physically demanding and also very technical in places. We head there in good shape, which is important because this is a track at which I haven't been particularly fast in the past. This is something I hope to change this weekend, so that we come away with a good result and more points on Sunday.”
“Le Mans isn't a track that really suits my riding style, so I was happy to come away from there with a fourth place finish and enough points to move me up to third in the championship. Mugello though, with its fast corners and flowing nature, is a track I enjoy racing at a lot and I'm really looking forward to the weekend ahead. The injury to my foot is much improved; it's still not fully healed but I'm confident that it won't cause me any problems on the bike and that I will be able to push for a good result and, hopefully, the podium.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It's been an interesting start to the season with Franco winning four of the five races and Álex winning the one Franco missed out on. It means we go to Mugello with a perfect win record and a huge target on our backs as the team to beat in Moto2. But we've been in this position before and it certainly motivates both riders to continue their winning form. Franco will have the home crowd advantage this weekend, but Mugello is a track that suits Álex's riding style and we know he is always fast there. It promises to be another nail biting weekend in the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS pit box, but this is how it is when you have two riders capable of winning races, and two or three rivals determined to end your winning streak.”