Mugello MotoGP: Seventh for James Toseland after pit stop gamble

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British rider James Toseland scored his best result of a tough 2009 MotoGP world championship in another rain-hit clash at the Mugello circuit in Italy.

Just two weeks after experiencing his first flag-to-flag race in Le Mans, Toseland was forced to changes bikes again in Mugello as the weather played another major role in proceedings.

The 23-lap race started on a wet track, but with a dry line quickly appearing, Toseland gambled on pitting to switch to his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 fitted with slick tyres on only the fourth lap. 

“I had no choice,” conceded the 28-year-old. “I started the race with a hard spring in the rear shock and it was the wrong decision. I was going backwards and struggling quite a lot so I just decided to pull into the pits for the dry bike. It was too early for slicks because the track was still quite wet, but I had to take a risk and at the end it paid off.”

Once he’d got his hard compound front and rear Bridgestone slicks up to optimum working temperature, Toseland’s decision reaped instant rewards as he lapped at least three seconds clear of the rest of the field as the track rapidly dried.

He ended up in a thrilling dice with French rider Randy de Puniet from lap 12 onwards having superbly clawed his way through from last place to sixth.

He managed to hold off de Puniet with a determined attacking display but saw his hopes of equalling his best MotoGP result of sixth dashed on the last lap by hard charging team-mate Colin Edwards.

“That’s my best result of the season and I’m happy with that because I feel I should be fighting around the top six on a regular basis. I had a really good dice with Randy and there were a few good overtakes. It’s the first race I’ve enjoyed for a while because for most of it I was fighting for the top six.

“That’s where I was a few times last season and that’s where this bike and team deserve to be. Hopefully I can push on in Catalunya, “added Toseland.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt