What does passion make a man do? How do you quantify utter dedication? And, when does men stop being common and become superhuman? This Sunday, if you were witnessing the MotoGP race, you would have known the answers to these questions. The Mugello round has this inherent destiny to be a bit more magical than any other round in the MotoGP calendar since its 30 year long association with the sport. The race weekend showed not just the passion that runs so deep into this sport but also the extreme mental strength and sheer talent all the riders on the paddock has, riders who are no less than superhumans.
The Mugello Race was always going to be a special one, especially in 2015 because the way the championship has been taking shape. With the man who is treated like a god in Italy, Valentino Rossi was coming into the race leading the championship, a feat that he was replicating after a long exhausting gap of seven years, Rossi did the same last time in 2008. And, then there was the spectacular resurrection of the Italian brand, Ducati, with their ground breaking GP15. The result, Mugello saw an astonishing rise of 20% in spectator attendance, this year's crowd gathering crossed 90,000 by a fair margin. add, to that the both the Factory riders are Italians and it meant whole of Italy was anticipating a huge day for the country in the premier class.
If there was anything that the Le Mans race showed was that Honda's were suffering and they were suffering big time, as all the riders on the Honda's suffered serious lack of grip, Honda's relentless search for horsepower showed its ugly side with the bike ending up being almost unridable. Come the Mugello race weekend, everyone was already talking about if Honda's will suffer again or not, with a rather dull Le Man race Marc Marquez was due and everyone knew that Marc has that talent a talent of sorts of the man he replaced at HRC - Casey Stoner, to ride through issues and yet come out triumphant riding a bike that is far from perfect. However, Mugello went from being tough to properly downhill when Marquez first failed to quality directly to the Q2 and then after a glaring strategy error saw himself thrown out of contention to enter Q2 when Yonny Hernandez pulled of a spectacular lap in the dead end of the Q1 to blow a surprise of the season for Marquez.
As Marquez showed first signs of losing his usual cool temper, everyone knew the race start with the reigning world champion starting from 13th position, his worst qualifying since coming to MotoGP, was going to be a breathtaking affair. Marquez has been known for some rough passes in his history in racing and with him falling behind in his defence for the title, the whole MotoGP fraternity and the fans were sure of a ferocious run to turn 1 by Marquez. Sense would say some caution but it was Marquez, and that young lad has shown an incredible talent in piercing through traffic at out-worldly speeds over the years and you do not defend championships following caution if you are Marc Marquez.
The race start showed just that, Marquez had already devoured 7 places by the time turn 1 was over, this time everyone was still riding and Marquez had managed to take the places cleanly or so it looked! till the super slow motion replays arrived showing that the Spanish rider was lucky to have survived through the turn 1 juggernaut of his, as his RC213V pivoted on the first tyre danced uncontrollably just when he tried to place himself on the inside of Pedrosa's line. The replays showed just how close it could have been, however, off went Marquez blazing past riders after riders and by the time lap 1 finished he had already taken 13 positions and was behind the race leader Lorenzo in the second place. With the bike performing better than most of the people expected, Marquez was getting his rear tyre to grip and chased Lorenzo like a cat.
And, as the grip started to diminish, as did Marquez's title hopes, in spite of using a harder front Marquez could not stop his RC213V to slide around as he lost his front and crashed out of the race while fighting with Andrea Iannone for second. Mugello starting as a tough weekend and ending on a devastating note for Marc Marquez, Marquez after two years of extra ordinary times where nothing could go wrong seems to have met the other side of luck in 2015 and whatever the two time world champion does this year, it will prove just how people will perceive him in coming years. As the glaring creaks start to appear in Marquez's armour the world waits to see how the young rider jumps back from it.
Of all the thrill that was being served in the race, Jorge Lorenzo was in a different world all together, his spectacular performance overshadowed by whatever that was happening behind him on the track. Saying, Lorenzo is a tough man to beat when in a form such as he is in now is both, an utter understatement as well as an insult to the meteoric talent that Lorenzo has. If Jerez showed his capabilities, Le Mans shouted aloud that Lorenzo of old was back and then the way Lorenzo rode through 23 laps of Mugello, defending off the Ducati charge and a brief dog fight with Marquez, Lorenzo stamped his authority with a precision of a stone cold assassin, that Lorenzo is utterly ruthless in the way he churns out lap after lap of astonishingly fast times with an unparalleled smooth riding that leaves his rivals in the wake of his sheer brilliance. Lorenzo's dominant victories might look boring to the less inclined audience but seeing what he is capable of doing back to back relentlessly is something superhuman-ish and we are lucky to be alive in the times when we could witness such flawless talent in front of us. What Lorenzo is capable of and his degree of talent is enough to make him one of the greatest sportsman not just in MotoGP but whole of the sports world combined.
Speaking for Superhuman talents and performance, the whole of Mugello weekend belonged to one rider and one rider only, Andrea Iannone. The Factory Ducati rider showed just how much a man's passion, sheer will and a downright historic grit can achieve. Andrea Iannone has suffered a nasty high speed crash in mid May during the two day private test that was held at Mugello just after the Jerez race. The crash had seen him suffer a dislocated left shoulder and he was unsure of racing at Le Mans. However, come the race weekend Iannone was there at the paddock with other riders and as he prepared for a painful weekend ahead at Le Mans he slowly build up pace for the race.
On Saturday, suffering through pain he took a well earned fifth place on the second row and he did it all without taking any pain killers, the medicines notorious in effecting the razor sharp reflexes of these racers. But the pain was unbearable, and on the Le Mans race day Iannone started the race with painkillers. As the race progressed the effect of the Pain killers decreased and thus the pain returned and it was around the same time Marquez came charging in threatening Iannone's fourth position, and hence began a dog fight worth a season long thrill, as Iannone and Marquez passed each other a staggering seventeen times through their race that saw Marquez taking fourth by a whisker from the Injured Iannone.
One would ask why the race of Le Mans had be mentioned here in such length, it is because what followed has made the 2015 Mugello race and Andrea Iannone worth talking about for a long time to come. After the Le Mans race Iannone was rechecked for recovery on his injured left hand, as the swelling decreased, Doctors found out a hairline fracture in his left elbow, that previously went un-noticed, it was a blow to Iannone as he had suffered through excruciating pains at Le Mans and with his home race coming in at end of May the news was a huge blow to his preparations and recovery for the same.
But then there is this strange madness to this racer breed and Andrea Iannone is as racer as they can ever be, adamant not to miss his home race Iannone knew he could not miss this race and he had to race. The Mugello race is a race of honour for Ducati, with Ducati bringing a whole new engine just for Mugello promising to be even more powerful than the already outrageously powerful engine, it was a race that was a huge deal for the resurgent Ducati and they did not want to leave any stone unturned to make it a memorable one.
Friday went to Ducati dominance as they took benefit of the recently concluded private test at the track, Iannone slowly came to speed while his team mate set out a blistering pace. Come Saturday, the rivals had already started to catch up and then as the FP4 arrived, Iannone with a still weak shoulder and a broken elbow took his GP15 to a level where no MotoGP machine has gone before, Iannone setting the highest ever recorded top speed on a MotoGP machine at a mind numbingly outrageous '350.80kmph' and then arrived Q2 where Iannone took an outstanding pole becoming the first Italian Pole sitter in an Italian round on a Italian machine in a long long time. In the process of getting pole Iannone shattered the outright alp record for Mugello set by Jorge Lorenzo in FP3 as he lapped the 5.245km circuit with a time of 1'46.489. All this with a healing dislocated shoulder and a broken elbow, considering a fact that just a day or two ago Iannone could not pick a pen to write.
Iannone has set a new standard for bearing sheer agony and pain and racing when it mattered, in a paddock that overflows with historic stories of riders fighting agonizing pains to race, Iannone's effort makes it even more special. If this doesn't make his attempt a superhuman then may be his race result would. Iannone took a hugely satisfying and a brilliantly fought second position at Mugello, his best result till date in MotoGP. It came out when he raced gritting his teeth, miraculously saving himself from a jump start, and then fighting with Marquez and then warding off a charging Valentino Rossi took a famous result that will stay in the hearts of those 91000 Italians that had come to watch this year's Mugello round and none of them would have been disappointed at what they had witnessed.
In third came Valentino Rossi who had lost a lot of time during early laps and by the time he overtook riders and gathered enough pace to match that of Lorenzo, it was already too late and Rossi had to settle for a third place, a welcome one that saw him still leading the Championship with 6 point from the rapidly charging Jorge Lorenzo. Pedrosa took a sensible fourth, finally reaching almost 100% fitness. Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro took fifth and sixth followed by Ecstar Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales in seventh, his best result till date. The top ten were completed by Michelle Pirro, Danilo Petrucci and Yonny Hernandez at eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.
The Moto2 race was won by Tito Rabat, winning his first race of the season. Tito finally starting the charge to defend his championship title. While the as usual thrilling Moto3 race saw Red Bull Factory KTM rider Miguel Olievera clinch his first ever Moto3 victory in a spectacular way.
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