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Moto3: Italian GP Preview: Where do we start?

Credit: Honda Pro Racing

It is going to be mental on Sunday for Moto3; each year we see groups of up to and sometimes over 20 riders battling for the race lead at Mugello. The long front straight provides some serious slipstreaming manoeuvres and spectacular sights into turn one, five or six abreast being the norm. So, with an Italian leading the championship, could it be anymore promising that Mugello once again will provide us with the best racing we see all season in the lightweight class?

Shock championship leader Marco Bezzecchi has been nothing short of a revelation in 2018 and until Le Mans, had finished every race in the points. The Prustel GP KTM ace has come out of nowhere and emerged as a serious championship contender in 2018 and will look to continue his form at his home round of Mugello this weekend. Three podiums in the opening five races have propelled Bezzecchi to the top but he has never scored points at Mugello – there is a first time for everything. Whilst he may be leading the championship, it is the lowest number of points after five races in the lightweight class ever, since the current point-scoring system was introduced back in 1993. Things are very close – both on track and in the points table.

If one Italian wasn’t enough, then another one crept into second last time out, with Fabio Di Giannantonio making it a two-pronged attack at the top of the Moto3 standings. Being robbed of his first ever GP win back at Le Mans by a race direction penalty, Di Giannantonio will be out to make amends at Mugello, a circuit where he has finished in 2nd place for the previous two seasons. Looking to go one better, as well as take his second podium of the season, ‘Diggia’ boasts the status of being the only rider to finish every race in the top ten so far this season. Surely that run will continue at home?

Despite his Jerez shenanigans, Aron Canet finds himself 3rd in the championship. The Spanish youngster sits seven points off the championship lead, so is well in with a shout of the title. Canet set the fastest lap of the race at Mugello last year on his way to 5th place and will hope to make a return to the podium this weekend, having not had a top-three finish since Termas de Rio Hondo, back in April. Still looking for his first pole and win of the 2018 season, Canet wants to start taking control of the order before the season really gets into its European stride.

Unequivocally quick and probably, for out and out pace, unbeatable, Jorge Martin finds himself down in fourth and without a point from the last two races – both of which he has started on pole for. The favourite coming into the season, Jorge Martin did not expect to be suffering an eight point deficit to young Marco Bezzecchi after the first five races – of course, the two tangled back at Le Mans, too. To some extent, Jorge Martin is limited in what he can do at Mugello, with it being absolute slipstream chaos for entirety of the race. Martin’s race craft may just give him the edge over his rivals on Sunday, to put him back at the top where he and the Gresini team believe he deserves to be.

Andrea Migno’s somewhat unexpected 2nd place at Le Mans elevated the popular Italian right up to fifth in the championship and just 18 points off the lead. Migno’s Le Mans podium came as a timely boost, with his home GP at Mugello being the scene of his first ever victory in GP last year – and KTM’s only win of the entire season. With Migno’s home-crowd cheering him on and his 2017 form at the track combining with his surge in 2018 results, don’t be surprised to the see the number 16 right up the front again – he may well be a contender for the win once more.

Ghosting into sixth place and almost unnoticed this season, Marcos Ramirez and his KTM team are completing the top half-dozen in a quiet manner. The Spaniard has enjoyed podiums at Jerez and Le Mans, making it the first time in his short but so far successful career that he has achieved back-to-back podiums. Ramirez was 9th at Mugello last year so expect him to improve on that come race day, as he pursues his first ever win – which may well come this weekend.

With the top six done, it really could be anyone else. John McPhee usually goes well at Mugello but ex-teammate Jakub Kornfeil has been right up the sharp end this season. Ex Red Bull Rookie riders such as Makar Yurchenko may well be a force to be reckoned with, whilst Philipp Ottl looks to repeat the achievements of his dad, Peter, who won the 125cc race in 1996 – a race where Valentino Rossi finished in 4th!

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