Mugello MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo tightens grip on title chase

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Jorge Lorenzo strengthened his grip on the 2012 MotoGP world title chase with an emphatic victory in yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard started the 23-lap as an overwhelming favourite after dominating practice and coming close to snatching pole.

And once he seized the lead at the first corner from Dani Pedrosa, his fifth win of the campaign looked in little doubt.

Lorenzo survived early pressure from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso to open up a comfortable lead by the halfway stage.

He continued to ease away at the front and Lorenzo’s lead was so commanding that he could afford time to showboat on the final lap, waving to a crowd of close to 65,000 fans.

Lorenzo’s first victory since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone extended his points lead over Repsol Honda rival Pedrosa to 19-points and he said: “I was really determined to be fast from the beginning and to be in first at the first corner.

“Dani braked so late and he made a little mistake and I took profit of it. I knew they had problems to warm up the tyres and I was a little faster so I tried to push at my maximum and I couldn’t open a gap.

“Dvizioso made an extremely good start, so he was there and I couldn’t go away. I had to wait a little bit to ride better and after seven or eight laps I could start to pull away and I rode better and the gap got bigger.”

His Mugello win capped a positive week for the 2010 world champion who had started the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring the previous weekend level on points with Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner.

Yet just eight days later and there is clear daylight between himself and Stoner after the Aussie suffered a second successive bad result.

The reigning world champion salvaged eighth after running off track while in fifth but at the halfway stage in the championship he now sits a massive 37-points behind Lorenzo.

The damage could have been much worse for Stoner had Lorenzo not been taken out by Alvaro Bautista in a first corner incident at last month’s Dutch TT in Assen that robbed him of a certain podium.

Lorenzo added: “Everything was perfect for us before Assen but the first corner was a disaster and we lose all the advantage we have, so it was a big frustration for me and the team.

“n Sachsenring Casey made a big mistake and here he couldn’t be at the front, so it is good for us. Dani still hasn’t made a mistake and this year he is very consistent and stronger than ever but at this moment he is the strongest rival, so we must keep an eye on him.

“t is a pity to lose the Assen race otherwise we would have had a much bigger advantage. I never think about the past and I can only keep thinking about winning races and keep getting on the podium.”

Pedrosa admitted he simply didn’t have an answer for Lorenzo’s electrifying speed after he scored an easy second to register his eighth podium in nine races.

He said: “The key was the first half of the first lap. I braked so late at the first corner and I just missed a bit and boom, Jorge was inside. Some corners later Dovizioso also came by and I was shocked on the first lap.

“I could see Dovi was so strong on the brakes at the start and he was keeping a good pace with Jorge. Jorge was slowly going away and I tried to overtake Dovi but he was so strong on the brakes that I couldn’t get him at the first corner.

“The Yamaha was fast too so I had to do it another part of the track. When I was second I tried to improve my pace and I was doing fast lap times like 47s but I started to spin the rear. And a few laps later I started to have a lot of chatter on the rear, so I was a bit afraid about that.

“I didn’t know if the right side of the tyre was heating up a lot so I knew to catch Jorge I needed to lap in the 47s all the way or even get close to the pole lap times and Jorge was so strong and constant. The maximum was second and that is a good job.”

For seven pages of coverage from Mugello, see the July 18 issue of Motor Cycle News.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt