The Hondas did not seem to fair well at the Autodromo del Mugello where they met for the sixth round of the season at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley; a weekend that will more than likely just be discounted and learnt from by all.
Disappointing results for the Honda clan
While Tito Rabat was having the time of his life with his best ever Qualifying and race result for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team, the rest were looking less than happy. The 2016 MotoGP champion, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) managed to salvage sixth place for the Repsol Honda Team. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) finished in the points, but unfortunately for Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), he was wiped out by Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) with corners to go.
Crutchlow angry on the second day of proceedings
Concerns were clear before Qualifying when Crutchlow struggled to finish in the top 10 during Free Practice 3 and so had to use Qualifying 11 to progress, but was so angry that he did not make it into the top two that he was seen throwing his protective gear when he removed it in the pits.
When asked, he claimed that Michelin had brought a tyre that suited the Ducati because he felt that they wanted them to win. He did explain his thoughts when he explained that Mugello is Ducati’s home track, and they do a lot of testing there and so will have been able to end off more data that would suit them come the race meeting.
Honda further down the starting grid
Pedrosa qualified in fifth, Marquez in sixth, Rabat in a career best of 10th, Crutchlow in 13th and Miller was down in 19th on the grid. There had been several incidents for the riders in the build up to the race. Marquez had ran straight through the gravel on several occasions, somehow managing to prevent crashes using his incredible skill; Crutchlow was also caught out.
Marquez tried to battle but struggled with grip
Come race day, Marquez was able to challenge the leaders at the beginning of the race. It was probably more because he had the determination and was willing to take the risk rather than the bike actually performing well in Italy. He missed out to fifth in the closing laps as Alvaro Bautista placed as the highest placed independent team rider with Pull & Bear Aspar Team who passed him to finish fifth.
It seems that he had struggled with the front tyre for the entire duration of the race. Taking a mature approach as we have witnessed from the Spanish champion of late, he chose to retain points rather than challenge for the podium.
The 2016 championship settled for points
He felt that he “started the race strong” as in Mugello he “knew the first laps were important” and so he “tried to fight”. He found that at first he “was able to do it” but then after a while he “started struggling with the front tyre in the corners”. He also found that he was “also getting caught on the straight by the others”.
He spoke of how they “chose the medium front spec” because he revealed that they knew that with the hard option that he “felt better with”, that they “wouldn’t have finished the race”. Delving further he said “with the hard front being asymmetric” as he explained “in this case the medium spec was harder on the right side than the hard spec”, which was more suited because the “Mugello track stresses the right side more”.
He spoke of how “at a certain point” he started to feel that he was “struggling too much in the corners” and so made the decision to “stay there and not risk crashing”. He found that this “situation allowed [them] to finish sixth”. He explained, “This is an up-and-down championship, so we must keep working hard and look to improve.”
Best MotoGP result for Rabat in Mugello
Rabat did well at the Italian track, finishing 11th in Mugello. He collected his best ever MotoGP career result after riding with a clear track ahead of him when he crossed the line. Rabat had tagged onto the back of his Honda colleagues where he will have learned an awful lot. But then he found in the final five laps that lost a lot of grip in the rear tyre.
He was left feeling “very happy with this result” as he knew it was the “closest [he has finished to the front guys in the MotoGP”. He found that “after the start” that he was “able to stay with Cal Crutchlow for many laps” and in order to do so he was “pushing 100%”.
He then found that “towards the end Dani Pedrosa was just ahead” but then this was when he noticed he was “losing some rear grip”. He also found that he “was getting very tired” and she he “decided to make sure [he] finished the race”.
Miller happy to finish without further injury
It is understandable that Miller may have been spooked from a difficult weekend in Le Mans, or may have been carrying injury, but he still managed to cross the line in 15th and salvage one point. The Australian was also struggling with grip, but this time on the front end like Marquez had reported.
He thought that scoring a point was “a bonus” when he considered the fact that “from the start of the weekend” that he “didn’t feel on the pace with a lack of front grip and confidence”. Still, he felt that 15th in Mugello was “a solid result with no crashes” and he felt he “did the best [he] could in the race”. Afterwards he was “looking forward to doing the Barcelona race” the following weekend and “being fit for the second of the back-to-back races.”
Pedrosa crashed and wiped Crutchlow out of Mugello
In a dramatic and earlier than planned finish to the race for Pedrosa and Crutchlow, Pedrosa lost control and in turn brought down Crutchlow without him. As all eyes were on the leaders, as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was approaching the finish line where he became the first Italian winner in Italy on Italian machinery since 1974, Crutchlow was seen looking furious as he gestured to Pedrosa in the gravel with their fallen bikes at their feet.
Crutchlow was fastest at the end of the first day of Free Practice on the Friday topping the timesheets with his time from Free Practice 2. He couldn’t match that though during the following two days but still put up a strong battle. But then at the end of the race, an overtake from Pedrosa brought a tough weekend to an abrupt end.
His temper ran high as he immediately was unhappy with the Spaniard who he was not expecting to be near him as not only could he not hear him, he then found himself on top of him. An apologetic Pedrosa accepted full responsibility and was not only sorry, but glad that they were both unhurt afterwards.
Cal’s thoughts on Mugello
The British rider came to the conclusion, “These things happen in racing.” He admitted that “obviously at the time [he was annoyed with Dani” who he thought was “clearly frustrated with the position he was in”. He knew that they were “all suffering” throughout the weekend on the Hondas and the “end result was that [they] crash and that’s it”.
He thought that Pedrosa “came from a long way back” and that he “didn’t hear him” but then he “suddenly saw him and then was on top of him”. He felt that it was “a shame” as he felt “happy enough in the race”. Cruthclow spoke of how he “felt quite food and never pushed over the limit”. He said that he was “making sure [he] was going to finish the race and managing the situation with the front tyre”.
Crutchlow’s attention then turned to the following round beginning less than a week later in Catalunya. Speaking of when they tested their previously he said it “seemed really difficult” and that Catalunya “could have been [their] worst circuit,” however judging by what happened in Mugello he was left thinking that there was their worst circuit.
He feels that “the next round at Barcelona will be really difficult” for them as well and he said that their “only saving grace” it that their “bike likes to slide a lot” and that they can “normally do decent lap times at the end of a race with the bike sliding.”
Pedrosa’s thoughts on Mugello
Pedrosa spoke of how they been “struggling with lack of grip since the beginning of the weekend” and that during the race “it was even worse”. He reported that he “felt no grip since the start” both in the front and the rear and he found that he “got passed by many riders with no possibility to fight back”.
He found that the “bike was shaking a lot even on the straight” and that he “wasn’t able to manage it.” What he described as “a long race” he mentioned that he “ultimately crashed on the last lap trying to overtake Cal and took him out”.
The Spaniard was “sorry for that” because he said it is “not good when you make a mistake and someone else pays for it”. He felt lucky that they were “both okay after the crash”. So his attention then turned to the following round and he said, “We’ll take this and look forward to the next race” and that he hopes they will “have a better feeling in Catalunya.”