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Smith Seeks Italian Sunshine to Put Pressure On Simon

By: | Published 25 May 2009, 14:35 | Views: 1,288 | tags: motogp, alice grand prix of italy, previews, event time schedule, bradley smith, danny webb, scott redding, james toseland, mugello, italy
Bradley Smith arrives in Mugello for the Alice Grand Prix of Italy seeking some sunshine to help put pressure on 125 cc Championship leader Julian Simon. The 18 year old from Oxford finished a very mature fourth in the Le Mans rain last week and is just five and a half points behind his Aspar team-mate Simon who scored his first win of the season in France.

Smith, who won his first ever grand prix at Jerez in Spain three weeks ago, finished fifth in Mugello last year in a breathtaking race in which the first seven riders were separated by eight tenths of a second.

The three other British 125 cc teenagers will be looking for that change of weather and fortune in Italy. Both Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding, who’d qualified in second place and Kent-based Danny Webb crashed in the rain while Yorkshireman Matthew Hoyle failed to qualify on the Chinese Haojue machine. The new team is still struggling to build enough parts to make their machinery both reliable and competitive.

James Toseland travels to Mugello for the MotoGP race with a smile on his face for the first time this season. The Yorkshireman survived his first ‘flag to flag race in Le Mans to secure his second top ten finish of the season. Last year the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider finished sixth on his Mugello debut.

Bradley Smith:

“After the rain and cold at Le Mans let’s hope for a dry sunny weekend. I finished fifth last year but with the first seven riders separated by eight tenths of a second anyone of us could have won the race. I was pleased with my fourth place in the French rain but I must keep up the pressure on Julian at the front.”
Danny Webb:
“I will be on it at Mugello because I was not happy with the race at Le Mans. I crashed when the rear slid away without any warning. I wasn’t even on the throttle but the bike was too damaged to continue.”
Scott Redding:
“I was really fed up after crashing in Le Mans especially after qualifying second which was my best ever. We thought the track was going to dry and chose the wrong rear sprocket and it didn’t stop raining. Let’s hope I can qualify as well in Mugello and we get it right for the race.”
James Toseland:
“It was my first time there last year, and I got my equal best result of sixth position. So I’m looking forward to going there. It’s a really amazing track, with what I think is one of the best layouts on the calendar, I’ve had a smile back on my face since the ninth place in Le Mans because I really feel like I’m turning the season round.”

Can Anybody Steal King Rossi’s Mugello Crown?

For the last seven glorious years Valentino Rossi has returned home to his beloved Italy to turn the Mugello circuit into a partisan frenzy of passion and pure excitement by winning the Italian Grand Prix. The 30 year old World Champion returns home once again on Sunday to chase his eighth successive premier class victory in the Alice Grand Prix of Italy after a chastising last round of the Championship at Le Mans in France where he scored no points.
Everything about the magnificent 3.259 miles Mugello circuit symbolises Italy and Rossi. The superb location of the track that embodies the gentle contours of the Tuscan hills high above the beautiful City of Florence. The sheer explosion of passion from an audience steeped in the tradition and success of grand prix motor cycle racing and a track constructed to provide high speed motorcycles and their pilots with an examination of skill and bravery rarely matched by any other venue in the World.
To wrestle the Mugello crown from the head of Italy’s favourite son will take a supreme effort but the first four rounds of the Championship this year have proved there are usurpers to the King’s crown ready and willing to lead the revolution.
Twenty one year old Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo leads that charge from first place in the World Championship. Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate has won two grands prix this year, including the last one in France. That precious Championship lead is by a single point from this year’s other grand prix winners Rossi and Australian Casey Stoner. Lorenzo, a 250 cc winner at Mugello, arrives bursting with confidence but the real threat could come from Stoner or Dani Pedrosa who is just nine points behind his bitter rival Lorenzo.
Mugello is not only the home of Rossi but also Ducati and Stoner has shown tremendous maturity riding the revered GP9 Desmosedici Marlboro Ducati to points scoring finishes at circuits where both the rider and the machine have been devoid of previous success. Mugello and many of the circuits at the forthcoming grands prix present a very different picture for a totally focused Stoner who shares second place in the Championship with Rossi.
Almost unnoticed Pedrosa has crept up on the leading trio despite missing all the pre-season because of injury. Riding the Repsol Honda he’s finished on the podium in the last three races and is a former 250cc winner at the track. It’s also a big race for his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso who shares fifth place in the Championship with Marco Melandri but who has never won in any class at his home race.
In the winter Melandri thought he may never ride another grand prix at Mugello following the withdrawal of the Kawasaki team. Hayate saved both his and Kawasaki’s grand prix future and they were both rewarded with an emotional second place in France. The Italian won the 250 cc race at Mugello seven years ago which was the same year that Rossi started his incredible run in the Premier class.
The last man on the current grid to beat Rossi at Mugello was Rizla Suzuki veteran Loris Capirossi back in 2000 riding the 500cc two-stroke Honda. After crashing at the opening round in Qatar the Italian has scored consistent points and lies ninth the Championship, four points behind his team-mate Chris Vermeulen.
The 250 cc World Championship is equally as close with four separate winners in the opening four rounds. Just one point separates Championship leader Spaniard Alvaro Bautista and Japanese Honda star Hiroshi Aoyama. Bautista is a former Mugello winner riding the Aspar Aprilia but both the two Championship leaders will be keeping a close eye on World Champion Marco Simoncelli. The Italian Métis Gilera rider failed to score points in the opening two rounds but finished on the podium in Spain, won in France and also won the race at Mugello last year. He’s still 26 points behind Bautista but a repeat win would put him right back in contention.
After the 32 crashes in the 125 cc race carnage in the French rain last week surely the weather will be dry for another epic encounter on Sunday. Spaniard Julian Simon won his first race of the season to lead the Championship by 5.5 points from his Aspar team-mate Bradley Smith. Italian Andrea Iannone seeks a change of fortune in front of the home crowd. He won the first two grands prix but has crashed out of the last two races although he did remount to finish seventh in France.
Event Time Schedule
Friday 29 May
12.40 – 13.40              125cc Free Practice 1
13.55 – 14.55              MotoGP Free Practice 1
15.10 – 16.10              250cc Practice 1
Saturday 30 May
09.00 – 09.40              125cc Free Practice 2
09.55 – 10.55              MotoGP Free Practice 2
11.10 – 12.10              250cc Free Practice 2
13.00 – 13.40              125cc Qualifying
13.55 – 14.55              MotoGP Qualifying
15.10 – 15.55              250cc Qualifying
Sunday 31 May
08.40 – 09.00              125cc Warm Up
09.10 – 09.30              250cc Warm Up
09.40 – 10.00              MotoGP Warm Up
11.00                           125cc RACE (20 laps)
12.15                           250cc RACE (21 laps)
14.00                           MotoGP RACE (23 laps)
Television Times

Practice, qualifying and the races will be shown at the following times on British television:
Saturday 30 May
1150-1500, BBC Red Button/online
Sunday 31 May
125 and 250cc race
0950-1205, BBC Red Button/online
1230-1400, BBC Two/online
MotoGP Extra
1400-1430, BBC Red Button/online
Friday 29 May
1140 – 1510    Free Practice 125cc, MotoGP, 250cc Live
Saturday 30 May
1200 – 1500 Qualifying 125cc, MotoGP, 250cc Live
Sunday 31 May
0945    125cc race day action Live
1100    250cc race day action Live
1530    MotoGP action
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