MotoGP: Ducati aiming for win at home with solid pace in Mugello
The holy grail of a home win at Mugello is within reach for Ducati, with the 215-plus mph rocketship the team has prepared for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Former Ducati rider Cal Cructhlow, now racing a Honda, believes the potential is there for the end of a losing streak now stretching into a fifth season.
It won’t be easy but there are crucial advantages for Ducati, not the least the twisted MotoGP rules, which Valentino Rossi has described as "unfair."
Ducati has an allocation of 12 motors for the season with total freedom on development and testing while Honda and Yamaha are restricted to five motors that were sealed prior to the first race.
And Ducati have the massive advantage of 10 percent more fuel — 22 liters over 20 for Honda and Yamaha – to deliver unrestricted full throttle horsepower on Mugello’s mega-fast front straight.
The two Andreas – Dovizioso and Iannone – are the men who must deliver for Ducati at their home test circuit.
"Ducati has such an advantage I honestly believe one of them will win the race on Sunday," Crutchlow said.
"Dovi more so than Iannone because Iannone cannot race as strongly, he can qualify fast but he is not as experienced Dovi in a race.
"I know that Ducati always bring a rocketship here. In the engine allocation normally they have one engine just for this race."
Crutchlow was a Ducati factory rider last year on the unloved and ill-handling GP14 but cut short a two-year contract to switch to Honda before the emergence of the fast, sharp handling GP15.
"I knew they were going to do a good job (with the GP15) and they have created a bike that now turns and has grip and is strong in power," Cructhlow said.
"Even if they dropped two liters of rule they could still be as competitive.
"They are really strong and I think they could win the race but firstly I hope a Honda wins the race although we also know Jorge Lorenzo is fast."
Honda’s hopes lie with world champion Marc Marquez who feels more comfortable at the longer Mugello circuit with electronic tuning helping to smooth the aggressive power delivery of the RC213V.
Dovizioso posted the fastest time in Friday’s free practice, edging Marquez by 0.164s with Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) third.
Dovizioso’s GP15 posted a top speed of 216 mph and – while the Hondas are only fractionally slower (214 mph) – Crutchlow says it is difficult to grab a tow in the slipstream of the rocketship red bikes.
"We don’t get a slipstream from the Ducati," he said.
"You can try and get in the bubble but you are not getting a slipstream, the Ducati has got some horsepower that’s for sure."
Ducati’s last MotoGP race win was by Casey Stoner in the 2010 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.