Stoner breaks Rossi’s home reign at Mugello.

 Valentino Rossi's seven-year reign at his home Italian Grand Prix has finally been broken after Casey Stoner took victory in a wet/dry race at Mugello. 

    The last non-Rossi victory at Mugello was by Alex Barros in 2001, but Stoner was able to hand Ducati its long awaited first home grand prix victory by 1.001sec from Jorge Lorenzo after a strong performance on both his wet and dry bike. 

    The win was Stoner's second of the season, after round one in Qatar, and puts the Australian back on top of the MotoGP World Championship standings by four points ahead of previous leader Lorenzo. 

    After a wet warm-up, dry 125cc race and wet 250cc race, the MotoGP main event began on a wet but drying track - an almost exact repeat of conditions at Le Mans two weeks ago. 

    On that occasion Lorenzo had won his second race of the year after building a comfortable advantage in the wet, then holding the lead after a late switch to his dry weather bike. 

    But the Mugello pole sitter suffered a confidence denting scare even before Sunday's race had begun, falling from his Fiat Yamaha on the way to the grid. The 22-year-old remounted and returned to the pits where the mud-splattered Spaniard grabbed his spare bike. 

    Meanwhile, with bike swaps certain to take place, Lorenzo's team set about franticly repairing his number one bike as quickly as possible. 

    When the race got underway, Lorenzo wobbled away from pole while countryman Dani Pedrosa took the early lead for Repsol Honda from eighth on the grid. Suzuki's wet weather master Chris Vermeulen was soon a force to be reckoned with, but it was fellow Australian Stoner who was ahead by the end of the lap. 

    Stoner, Vermeulen and Andrea Dovizioso began pulling away from fourth placed Rossi, and it was Repsol Honda rider Dovizioso who became the first of many Italians to lead on Sunday when he hit the front on lap four of 23. 

    Countrymen Rossi and Marco Melandri - second to Lorenzo at Le Mans and second to Casey Stoner in this morning's wet warm-up - were also in hot pursuit, the #46 rising swiftly through the lead group to take the lead from Dovizioso on lap eight. 

    Melandri demoted Dovi from second soon after then, on lap ten, made a move unthinkable at the start of the year - overtaking Rossi for the lead of his home grand prix! 

    Meanwhile, James Toseland had been the first rider to gamble on changing bikes, the Briton diving into the pits at the end of lap four - and by lap eight he was the fastest man on track. 

    Dovizioso was the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap nine and at the end of lap ten the four leading riders - Melandri, Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner - did likewise. 

    Melandri's Hayate emerged back in the lead, but Dovizioso was already up to full racing speed and carved his way to the front by 2.9sec over Stoner by the end of the lap, with Melandri third, Lorenzo fourth, Loris Capirossi fifth and Rossi sixth. 

    Former Ducati team-mates Stoner and Capirossi - running the softer compound slicks - then emerged as the men to beat; Stoner retaking the lead from Dovizioso with ten laps to go, then losing out to Capirossi's Suzuki. 

    Suzuki have not had a rider finish on the podium at Mugello since Daryl Beattie was second in 1995, but Loris looked to be gunning for a repeat of his 2000 500cc Mugello win for Honda. 

    The constantly drying track may have been working against the GSV-R, but only Stoner had got past Capirossi with two laps to go; whereupon the #65 fell victim to both Lorenzo and Rossi. 

    The last lap began with Lorenzo less than one second from Stoner, with Rossi a further second back. Any hopes of a miraculous last lap by Rossi to snatch an eighth consecutive home victory were soon dashed as the reigning six time MotoGP world champion instead found himself under pressure for the final podium position from Dovizioso. 

    Rossi held on by just 0.053sec at the flag and the visibly disappointed Italian joined a delighted Stoner and Lorenzo on the podium. Dovi thus lost out on his first rostrum of the year by one place for the second race in succession, while Capirossi dropped to the tail of the group in fifth. 

    But Dovizioso's fortunes were far better than team-mate Pedrosa.

    Melandri was another to suffer as the weather improved, crossing the line eleventh, with Nicky Hayden finishing his first Italian Grand Prix for Ducati in twelfth, ahead of Pramac's Mika Kallio. 

    Gresini Honda riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis completed the field. de Angelis remounted after a crash, while Scot Honda's Yuki Takahashi joined Pedrosa in going down and out. 

    Grupo Francisco Hernando Ducati rider Sete Gibernau is not present this weekend after fracturing his left collarbone at the French Grand Prix. 

    Tyre 'mistake' ends Rossi’s Mugello dream.

    Fiat Yamaha has defended its decision to send Valentino Rossi out on a hard compound front slick, which looked to cost the Italian his eighth home Mugello victory in a row. 

    Starting fourth on the grid, the reigning six-time MotoGP world champion made steady progress in the wet opening laps, taking the lead on lap 8 of 23. Although soon passed by countryman Marco Melandri, Rossi was still holding a close second place when he pitted for his dry bike. 

    The top four riders at the time - Melandri, Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner - all pitted at the end of lap 10. 

    Stoner returned to action with medium compound slicks front and rear on his Ducati, while Lorenzo's side of the Yamaha garage went for a medium front/hard rear combination. However, team-mate Rossi returned with hard compound slicks both front and rear. 

    The hard front slick had been the expected choice had the full race been run in the dry, but took much longer to build temperature on the damp track - while the reduced dry distance meant endurance wasn't such a critical factor. 

    The end result was that Stoner got quickly up to speed, overtaking the three he had pitted with to sit second behind Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso - who had pitted two laps earlier - by the end of his 'out lap'. 

    By contrast, Rossi dropped back to sixth and, although he went on to set the fastest lap of the race, on lap 21 of 23, victory was already out of reach and the 30-year-old had to settle for third position, 2sec behind Stoner and 1sec from Lorenzo. 

    “Of course I am disappointed not to win again in Mugello but seven times in a row is not so bad and the important thing is that I made it onto the podium,” said Rossi. “It's a very special moment in Mugello, with all the fans below, and I would have been very sad to have missed that! 

    “It was a very hard race today and once again the weather was a problem for us, we're very unlucky in these half-and-half races and I think this is my first podium in one." 

    Rossi's first lap out of the pits on slicks was a 2min 13.483sec - compared with 2min 6.761sec for Stoner and 2min 10.526sec for Lorenzo. Rossi admitted that the front tyre choice had been 'a mistake'. 

    "In the wet we were very fast because we had found a great setting, but then when we changed bikes we made a mistake and chose a front tyre that was too hard, so it took me a long time to be able to put enough temperature on it and I lost a lot of time,” he confirmed. 

    “At the end I was able to ride better and I knew that I had to make it onto the podium, so I am happy for this.” 

    Rossi was the only rider in the top five to run a hard front tyre, but team manager Davide Brivio defended the decision. 

    “It is easy to say now that we could have done things differently, but we took a decision before the race based on the characteristics of our bike, on Valentino's riding style and on our experience,” said Brivio. “You only know at the end of the race if the decision you took was the right one.” 

    Rossi has now slipped from second to third in the championship, but is still within nine points of new leader Stoner with Lorenzo just five points ahead. 

    “Of course after Le Mans [where Rossi finished 16th and last] this is a big improvement and these points are important because it's very close between the three of us,” said Rossi. 

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