MotoGP paid tribute to Nicky Hayden at Mugello with three races he would have heartily approved of. After an emotional sixty-nine seconds of silence that turned into a prolonged round of applause, the Moto3 hooligans put on the closest race I have ever seen; with five laps to go, a second covered the top twenty. Then Mattia Pasini won Moto2 despite not having won since the 250s here in 2009, retiring, coming back, and, a mere detail this, riding with both clutch and brake levers on the left handlebar due to severe nerve damage from a schoolboy motocross accident. And then for the first time since 1974 an Italian won the Italian Grand Prix on an Italian motorcycle. In fact, we heard three rousing renditions of the Italian anthem today, all of them enthusiastically conducted from the podium.
This was the first race weekend of the year with consistent weather from friday to sunday, which should have helped Jorge Lorenzo but didn’t. He was eclipsed by a whole bunch of other Ducatis. Dovizioso won in masterful style after dealing with the Yamaha and Petrucci took a massively popular third place with Alvaro Bautista in fifth. The men from the Bologna factory were ecstatic, even the normally ice cold MD Claudio Domenicali lost it in parc ferme. The calls to sponsors Phillip Morris and owners Audi will be a lot easier next week.
This was the first time an Italian on an Italian made motorcycle won the top class at an Italian GP since Gianfranco Bonera on an MV Agusta at Imola in 1974. If Rossi could have finished on the rostrum as well, Italy would have exploded in a supernova of national pride, but Vale’s injuries limited him to fourth. That was in front of Marquez and all the other Hondas but behind Vinales who finished second and extended his championship lead to twenty-six points, that’s more than a win’s worth, and next week they go to Catalunya – another place the Hondas are likely to struggle.
But yet again, no-one is really sure what’s going to happen.