Mugello staged its first World Championship race in 1976 when the Nations Grand Prix was won by Barry Sheene. Since then the track has staged 19 grands prix including the Nations, San Marino and Italian races. It has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for the last 11 years with the passionate home fans producing an incredible noisy atmosphere which is not matched anywhere in the World.
The track itself matches the noise, location and facilities. It contains a number of fast chicanes and a long left hand bend into the second longest straight in the MotoGP calendar. The 990 cc four-stroke machines reach speeds of over 340 km/h as they race over the top of the rising straight before plunging down to the first right hand bend,
with the back wheel in the air.
The weather and particularly the rain that can swirl around the surrounding hills, often plays a part in the outcome. Last year the race was run over just six laps when the first race was stopped because of rain. World Champion Valentino Rossi won that sprint and also was victorious at Mugello the two previous years.
Honda Pons have had a very successful time at the track with Loris Capirossi sending the home fans wild with a victory in 2000 and Alex Barros winning the next year in the rain.
Mugello is the perfect venue is so many ways but getting any sleep in the paddock and travelling in and out of the circuit can be a problem. It's a small price to play.
FROM THE SADDLE
Alex Barros :
ďAfter Le Mans I went to Brazil for a couple of weeks, where I have undergone lots of physiotherapy to recover from the back pain Iíve been suffering from after the crash in France. I still havenít got rid of it completely, so Iím not moving freely, but Iíll only find out whether I can ride at 100% or not once I get on the bike. I am obviously hoping that I can be in decent shape, because I love the track; itís fast and technical, and one of the best in the world. I know that Iíve ridden in worse physical conditions than this though, so Iím intending to be up there with the Italians on Sunday, because they are always highly motivated to go well there.Ē
Troy Bayliss :
ďThe tests we did in Le Mans after the race went well, and I left France more or less happy with the answers we found. On Sunday weíll ride at Mugello, a track I really like and where I have lots of experience. The race was great there last year, I enjoyed myself and even though I havenít ridden the Honda there before, Iím sure I can put
in a good race on Sunday.Ē
Length: 5.245 kms
Pole Position: Right.
Right corners: Nine
Left corners: Six
Longest Straight: 1.141 kms
Constructed May 1974.
Lap record: Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1m51.133s - 169.905 km/h
Pole record 2004: Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1m49.553s - 172.355 km/h
Race Winner 2004: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 12m06.803s - 155.355 km/h
Results Bayliss and Barros 2004:
Troy Bayliss fourth.
Alex Barros sixth.
It is always a pleasure for teams to race at Mugello. The circuit is exemplary in its layout, its safety features and the excellent facilities that make the work of the teams much easier The most notable characteristic of the track is the top speed reached. It is by quite some way the circuit which registers the highest speeds, with the speedometer topping the 320 km/h mark. These exceptionally high speeds reached means that very often it is necessary to make aerodynamic improvements to the bike. These modifications are made not only to increase the top speed but also to stop the bikes quite literally taking off like an aeroplane at the end of the straight.
To illustrate this, it is worth bearing in mind that a Jumbo 747 aeroplane lifts off at around 310 Km/h. The riders frequently note that when they start to brake at the end of the straight, as they come out from the protection of the fairing, the force of the air against their chest can be painful. Some riders make modifications to the front of their racing leathers and reinforce the padding here to stop this problem. The high speeds also condition the gear ratios to be used at the circuit. Since the sixth gear must be set up to attain speeds of more than 360 km/h (it should be noted that the speed of the rear wheel is much higher than the actual speed of the bike), the gaps between the gears are very long and it is difficult to set correctly. What's more, the fact that 52% of the lap is taken in second gear and 35% in third, means these ratios cannot be altered too much, therefore the fourth and fifth gears must be set to accommodate effectively the jumps in speed.
The average speed at this track is one of the highest of the World Championship at more than 170 Km/h and, together with the long straight, means that the fuel consumption is one of the highest in the season. This means that the power delivery of the engine must sometimes be set to the minimum in order to conserve fuel and get to the end of the race without running out of fuel. This factor is even more significant this year with the introduction of a new fuel limit of only 22 litres permitted. The engine settings used will more likely be dictated by lowering fuel consumption than by optimizing power delivery.
At a circuit like Mugello where there are six chicanes, even though they are taken at a relatively high speed, we are looking to obtain as low a centre of gravity as possible so that the riders can use a minimum of effort to shift the bike. The suspension settings must be set relatively hard, in the front to support the sharp braking at the end of the straight, and in the rear because the sudden changes of racing line in the chicanes produce an extra force on the rear suspension.