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Italian GP: Can anyone stop Ducati in their own backyard?

MotoGP riders

Bengaluru, May 28: FIM MotoGP World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo is in a confident mood at Mugello, as three title-chasing Ducatis aim for home GP glory at the Italian GP.

After going without the majestic Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in 2020, the riders and paddock have eagerly returned to the circuit for Round 6 of the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was joined in the pre-event press conference by his closest challenger Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), back-to-back winner Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), with all six riders looking forward to attacking Mugello once more.

The Bologna bullets have taken the last three victories at Mugello thanks to Danilo Petrucci, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, and everyone knows the advantage they are going to have down the 1.1km home straight.

Italian GP's free practice sessions begins on Friday with the qualifying on Saturday before MotoGP brings the Tuscan hills alive at 2pm local time (IST 5.30) on Sunday.

The Indian audience can catch all the live action on Eurosport SD/HD channels and the same will be live streamed on discovery + app.

Ducati have proved their package is competitive everywhere this season though, they have had at least one rider on the rostrum at all five races this year, so they are going to be understandably confident on home turf this weekend.

However, Quartararo is also relishing Mugello, because it is not just about superior straight line speed.

Quartararo confident

Quartararo confident

"I'm expecting a great race, you know when we were in Qatar I was feeling a bit the same because Ducati had won the last three races and actually I'm feeling good on the bike.

"On the straight we know it's not a strong point for us but there're many corners here, and the fast corners are where I feel good. I think we need to just start the weekend like a normal weekend, not thinking about the last three wins of Ducati or the big straight here, just go for it, do our pace and see on Sunday. The most important thing is that we've a really great feeling on the bike."

Buoyant Bagnaia

Buoyant Bagnaia

Ducati's Bagnaia, who is just a point behind Quartararo is eyeing his maiden win at Mugello, though he is not losing sleep over it.

"It would be great if I could win my first race here, but at the moment it's not my objective. First of all, it's more important to be constant and then competitive from the start of the weekend. Then, if the win is possible, I'll try to achieve it."

Miller's Mugello demons

Miller's Mugello demons

Miller is the man in form with two wins in a row, but his track record at Mugello is not something to boast of and the Australian rider wants to set it straight.

"Mugello demons? I mean it's a place I love. My report card of Mugello isn't the most pleasant one. I've always been pretty quick here but just haven't been able to see too many chequered flags. I'll try to put that right this weekend but we'll see what happens."

Rossi returns

Rossi returns

One of the hot topics swirling around the MotoGP paddock is will Rossi be racing next year or not. Mugello, Barcelona, the Sachsenring and Assen are up next before the summer break, and the Italian MotoGP legend admits it is a vital part of the campaign for him especially.

"We now have a very important period of the championship because we've four races in five weeks. Everybody will start to think about 2022 during that period, so like I said that the beginning, in that point I'll make my decision. We'll see but for sure now these four races are very important for us to try and find some good results."

(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)

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Story first published: Friday, May 28, 2021, 10:11 [IST]
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