The rolling hills of Tuscany await the Moto2 World Championship this weekend for round six of the 2019 series, currently led by Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40).
Although he leads the series, it has been far from plain sailing for Baldassarri so far in 2019, with three wins but also two crashes – including one at the previous round of the championship in France – leaving him with a seven-point lead coming into his home Grand Prix this weekend. Baldassarri’s history in Mugello is quite good, however, with his second place last year adding to his second place of 2016 to mean that he has two podiums at home so far in his career. If he finishes this weekend, statistically he is likely to win.
Second in the championship is still Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) in spite of his difficult round in Le Mans where he struggled for pace all weekend and finished sixth. Fortunately for the Swiss, he seemed to pick a good race to drop his pace, as his rivals either crashes or had similarly poor results, such as his injured Dynavolt Intact GP teammate Marcel Schrotter who could only manage eighth; Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who crashed, and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) who also fell. Nonetheless, Luthi needs a return to form this weekend, especially if Baldassarri is to please his home crowd.
The two aforementioned fallers in Le Mans are also in need of strong results in Mugello, Lowes more than Gardner, who simply needs to bounce back from a poor weekend. Lowes’ opening to the season has been disappointing – despite dominating testing, the Briton has failed to make the podium thus far in 2019, but with a good record in the past at Mugello there is a good opportunity for the #22 to turn his season around this weekend.
Whilst not being Italian himself, Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) does ride for an Italian team, and a chassis which historically has worked well in Mugello, with Andrea Iannone way back in the early days of Moto2, and slightly more recently with Sam Lowes, who was on pole with the bike in 2015.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had a new KTM chassis in Le Mans, and it took him to his best result of 2019 so far with fourth place, which he will hope to build on in Mugello, where Miguel Oliveira won in 2018 for the Austrian marque.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), like Binder, had his best result of 2019 two weeks ago in France, as he won for the first time since Motegi 2017. The cash of Baldassarri and the poor result of Luthi also meant that Marquez’ win brought him into championship contention, as he now enters round six in Mugello just fourteen points adrift of the points lead.
Baldassarri is not the only hope for the Italian crowd this weekend. Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) had a strong run in Le Mans, and was looking strong to pass Marquez for the lead just before he crashed; whilst Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), along with Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up), have been impressing in their rookie respective rookie seasons in the Moto2 class.
Finally, Mattia Pasini is once more replacing Khairul Idham Pawi at the Petronas SRT team, and the 2017 winner will be hoping to return to the podium this weekend after getting caught up in Baldassarri’s crash back in Le Mans.