Another topographical treat, Mugello hasn’t the unforgiving bare knuckle contours of Portimão, it’s the curvaceous queen of Grand Prix circuits. For the Rookies it is all high speed cornering and slipstream, intense battles and mass finishes, it has never produced an Italian victor.
After 4 sensational races in Spain and Portugal we are in Italy for Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Races 5 and 6. So everyone has a good amount of time on the KTM RC 250 R but Mugello is not a circuit that many of the riders frequent so there is still plenty of learning to be done.
That was no impediment 12 months ago to Taiyo Furusato who made his Rookies Cup debut here and incredibly won Race 1. Just 0.332 seconds covered the top 8 finishers and 1.6 seconds the top 15. After completing the Rookies season Furusato has jumped into the Moto3 World Championship.
Not every Rookies race at Mugello is a photo finish and it was a key moment in Jorge Martin’s Cup winning season 2014 when the Spaniard won in wonderfully dominant style, relaxing in the end for a 2.7 second win over Italians Manuel Pagliani and Stefano Manzi, the best result for Italians in Rookies history.
Spaniard Carlos Tatay was similarly dominant in his 2019 Cup winning season, a huge 9.9 second victory over fellow countryman Pedro Acosta and Japanese Haruki Noguchi.
Hot so far
So what will it be this year, a pack racing to the line or one man domination? So far this season we have had both with Cup leader José Rueda winning the first race of 2022 by 9.178 seconds but Race 2 in Portugal was a blanket finish.
The Spanish 16-year-old won Race 1 in Jerez by just 0.018 seconds over fellow countryman 15-year-old Angel Piqueras. Race 2 saw Max Quiles just 0.016 ahead at the flag and a second covering the top 11.
Quiles, the 14-year-old Spaniard admitted that he didn’t really know where the win came from but the confidence it brings is likely to make him a player in Italy.
Who can make history?
We have seen plenty from the Spanish already this year so which Italian is most likely to claim the home town advantage and take that long awaited Italian win?
The four who wear the Italian tricolore on the arms of their Alpinestars leather are 14-year-old Demis Mihaila, 15-year-olds Alex Venturini and Luca Lunetta who actually has his birthday on Friday so joins Filippo Farioli as a 16-year-old.
It’s birthday boy Lunetta who has hit top form for his home race, taking 2nd in Race 2 in Jerez. The result was no fluke, he was 3rd quickest in Qualifying. He has made great strides since finishing 14th in last year’s Cup. In Mugello last time he was 16th in Race 1 just out of the intense second pack and only 2.774 seconds behind the winner at the flag.
In the points with 10th in Race 2 and just 2.280 seconds behind the winner he flashed over the line just behind Farioli who had been 20th in Race 1. Mihaila was 15th in Race 1 and 16th in Race 2. For first year Rookie Venturini Mugello on the Rookies KTM will be a new experience.
So Lunetta should be the favourite for a home win, that would be a huge birthday celebration.
This weekend’s Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
Race 1 is at 17:25 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 16:30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
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