By Antonio López
Main favorite for victory: Dovizioso
Marc Marquez has three consecutive victories, something he hasn’t accomplished since the 2014 season where he broke all manner of records. If his win in Austin was expected, we can’t say the same about Jerez or Le Mans, historically two of the four most difficult circuits for Honda on the entire calendar, and where last year he was far from winning. This means that Marc is in a position to win anywhere, even though Mugello is another track that chokes him (the fourth track is Malaysia). Last year he only managed sixth, behind Bautista on the Ducati by less than one tenth, though the state he arrives to Mugello this year is far different from 2017. His position in championship is ideal, but he carries an objective and that is to win in Italy in front of the fans of his biggest championship rival and arch-enemy which is what Valentino became after Argentina. But if Marc is winning where he couldn’t get close before, Dovizioso is also going fast where was not expected to be fast. The GPs in Spain and France are over, but Dovi finished first in one and second in the other, showing that together with his Ducati he is more competitive than last year when he won in Mugello, a race that he incidentally ran with lingering physical problems after a night of vomiting that prevented him from taking part in the warm up. Only the victory will do, there is no room to be conservative.
10 years ago was Rossi’s last victory in Mugello, where he had won for 7 consecutive years in a row. The 2016 race was one of his strongest we had seen in recent years, until his bike broke. In 2017 he finished 4th, but he was dragging the aftermath of an injury from a motocross crash. The recent test did not go very well, although Valentino always brings something special when racing at home. Petrucci is another one that needs to be placed on the weekend betting table due to reaping the best result of the season, but how he’ll manage the pressure is an unknown, especially now that there is so much talk about his possible entry onto the official team. The last two times he raced in Italy (Mugello and Misano) he stood on the podium. He is another one that can only race to win.
With the pressure of racing at home behind him, Zarco arrives at a track where he won as a Moto2 rider but where he suffered last year, something normal for rookies when they arrive to Mugello. With the experience he has now, he’ll do better but it will be difficult this weekend as he is still pursuing his first MotoGP victory. Viñales finished second here last year, but his performance this weekend is an unknown, though in theory he should be able to fight for victory. Those who are undecided are Lorenzo and Iannone, two riders who come to Mugello in identical conditions, meaning they both are racing on a motorcycle that is expected to win, and both urgently need a spectacular result to secure their futures.
Moto2: Lorenzo Baldassarri
It’s going to be difficult for someone to sneak a win in among the Italians this weekend. Last year, Pasini won after some spectacular overtaking, as we saw him do in Argentina this year as well, though Baldassarri crashed before completing the first lap and Bagnaia also went to the ground although on the last lap. Of the three, it is Mattia and Lorenzo who are most comfortable in the group fights and for this race, we bet on the Team Pons rider for the win. Oliveira, Márquez and Vierge form the group that will try to keep the Italian anthem from playing on the podium. The Portuguese rider has to get up front and at Mugello he should be closer than have seen him so far. Alex has a bigger goal than a victory and that is the title. The younger of the Márquez boys will take a risk at the following race in Catalonia, but not in Italy. Vierge wants to get rid of the bad taste Le Mans left him with, where he knows he could have won if he didn’t have to start last.
Two of the riders that could surprise us are Mir and Barberá. The first is familiar with the Moto2 podium, but Mugello is a big obstacle for rookies, and a rider who is no rookie is Hector, who can get along well with the Italian track and make it to the front group which is where he is expected to be.
Moto3: Di Giannantonio
We have to remember that at Mugello the race is usually run in a huge group and that everything is decided in the last meters in the battles just before the finish line, but we must also take into account (surprisingly) that the first rider to arrive on the straight usually wins, as did Migno last year, or Binder in 2016.
Di Giannantonio savored a victory during the the GP of France until he was informed of a penalty that relegated him to fourth. He has finished second here the last two years. In 2017 he was the fastest but he miscalculated the strategy for the final attack, and in 2016 he also showed himself to be the most competitive in what ended up being his first World Championship podium. On this occasion, with more experience and also anger at what happened at Le Mans, he will be the man to beat. Bezzecchi should a great rival. The KTM has taken a step forward in terms of top speed, as we saw in Le Mans, and at Mugello speed is essential. Spaniards Martin and Canet will have to play their cards better than they did last year, and with more luck than they had in the last two races.