It is an incredible seven years since Valentino Rossi donned the top step at his home circuit of Mugello and this weekend the Italian can dare to dream as he sets his sights on extending his Championship lead.
Mugello has been the scene of the crime for the majority of Rossi’s success over the years having won seven races on the bounce between 2002 and 2008 but the seven-time MotoGP Champion will be keen to return to winning ways this weekend and he certainly can.
Rossi has reached near immortality among the adoring Italian public and this Sunday has the hallmarks of a fairy tale even if it isn’t the end.
The opportunity to turn back the clock to his younger years may be what spurs Rossi on this weekend in a race that could be his last chance to emerge victorious at his spiritual home.
The Doctor returned to the podium at Mugello last season for the first time since 2009 to the roar of the Italian embankments ending a painful run of form at the circuit and Sunday’s race will see him go one better.
Why? Maybe it is my blind faith in one of the greatest ever to swing his leg over two wheels but Valentino is in the form of his life and at his home circuit he certainly knows what it takes to win.
Although the home favourite faces serious competition from Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo with the Spaniard claiming maximum points during the last two outings at Le Mans and Jerez. After struggling in the early exchanges of the season the former World Champion has come out throwing punches since his upturn of form in his homeland of Spain and he certainly won’t leave Mugello without a fight even if he is depicted as the villain this weekend.
The challenge of reigning World Champion and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has fallen away in recent races with the improvements of Yamaha over the winter but you can never count the 22-year-old out.
Ducati will also be looking for a strong showing at Mugello with the circuit being an hour away from the Bologna team’s test centre. Andrea Doviziso and Andrea Iannone have also recently tested at the Tuscany circuit in which the pair were lapping on record pace and if Rossi were to fail in his bid to send the home crowd away happy many wouldn’t begrudge a Ducati victory.
Rossi has his hands full with challengers this weekend but the Italian can win there is no doubt. Valentino has the bike, the form, the crowd and the ability. Good luck to all who stand in his way, you’re going to need it.
1. Jorge Lorenzo
1. Valentino Rossi
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Andrea Dovizioso