lundi 21 mai 2018

Spa-Classic : du neuf avec de l’ancien / a new take on the past!

Pour la 8ème édition de Spa-Classic, les équipes de Peter Auto ont réussi la prouesse de réunir 325 voitures de course et 1.200 voitures de collection avec, en prime, quelques belles nouveautés.
Le succès d’un évènement sur circuit repose en partie sur la capacité de l’organisateur à renouveler le spectacle proposé. Une évidence quand il s’agit de compétitions de voitures modernes, mais un réel défi dans le domaine des courses historiques où, par définition, les plateaux ne sont pas régénérés naturellement par l’apparition de nouveaux modèles. Et pourtant, Peter Auto parvient chaque année à surprendre. Un exemple ? Vendredi, une Porsche 962 blanche immaculée est apparue dans le paddock du Group C Racing sous le regard surpris des spécialistes. Et pour cause, vendu en 1991 par l’usine, ce châssis (NO/962-174) n’avait jamais disputé une seule course… Il aura fallu attendre plus d’un quart de siècle pour voir cette anomalie corrigée !

Deux nouveaux plateaux

Si le pôle compétition sait dénicher des modèles inédits, il peut aussi réinventer sa façon de voir la course historique. Le meeting de Spa-Classic a ainsi baptisé la 2.0 Litres Cup, première série monotype by Peter Auto. Au volant de Porsche 911 pré-1966, près de 40 pilotes se sont affrontés à armes égales, offrant au passage de belles bagarres. Et ce n’est pas tout ! L’évènement a aussi inauguré le rapprochement entre Peter Auto et les promoteurs du Global Endurance Legends, un plateau de démonstration qui regroupe des GT et prototypes des années 1990-2000. L’occasion de revoir, entre autres, une splendide Bentley EXP Speed 8 identique à celle qui avait remporté les 24 Heures du Mans en 2003. Signalons que cette grille animera de nouveau le Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or dans trois semaines, puis Le Mans Classic où près de 70 voitures sont attendues : Audi R8 LMP900, Bentley Speed 8, Ferrari F40 LM, McLaren F1 GTR, Panoz Esperante GTR-1, Porsche 911 GT1…

Clubs et animations


Outre l’action offerte par les huit plateaux en compétition, les spectateurs ont pu délaisser la piste l’espace de quelques minutes – voire quelques heures ! – pour admirer les voitures de collection exposées. Des automobiles emblématiques et parfois rares à l’instar de l’un des 455 exemplaires de BMW M1 produits, celui-ci ne cumulant que 3.000 km au compteur, chiffre à peine croyable pour un modèle qui fête cette année ses… 40 années d’existence ! Dimanche midi, ce beau panel de l’histoire de l’automobile a été rejoint par les 205 équipages du Youngtimers Rally venus terminer leur périple sur le toboggan des Ardennes. Dans le Village, les spectateurs ont fait le plein d’émotions avec le Mur de la Mort (show mécanique). Les autres animations (Racing Bug, Neo Retro) et les exposants (miniatures, prêt-à-porter, livres, etc.) ont quant à eux comblé un large public.

Prochaines échéances

Fort du succès de cette édition, Patrick Peter donne d’ores-et-déjà rendez-vous au printemps 2019 pour le 9ème Spa-Classic. En attendant, les concurrents des plateaux by Peter Auto se retrouveront dans trois semaines à l’occasion du Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or tenu sur le circuit de Dijon-Prenois. Puis, les 6-7-8 juillet, ce sera enfin le tour de la grand-messe des courses historiques… Le Mans Classic !

The Peter Auto teams achieved a remarkable feat at the 8th staging of Spa-Classic by assembling 325 racing cars and 1.200 collector cars with, as a bonus, some superb newcomers.
The success of an event held on a circuit is partly based on the organiser’s capacity to inject fresh blood into the spectacle on offer. This is obvious when it comes to races for modern cars, but becomes a real challenge in the domain of historic events where, by definition, the grids are not naturally renewed by the appearance of new models. Even so every year Peter Auto manages to spring a surprise. An example: on Friday an immaculate white Porsche 962 appeared in the Group C Racing paddock to the amazement of specialists. And for good reason: this car (chassis NO/962-174) sold by the factory in 1991 had never been raced! It took more than a quarter of a century to rectify this anomaly! 

Two new fields

While the competition department knows how to find new models, it can also reinvent the way it perceives historic racing. Thus, the Spa-Classic meeting was the theatre of the maiden event for the new 2.0-Litres Cup, Peter Auto’s first single-make series. Almost 40 drivers in pre-1966 Porsche 911s did battle on a level playing field providing the spectators with some ding-dong battles! And there was more. Spa-Classic also inaugurated the rapprochement between Peter Auto and the promoters of Global Endurance Legends who organise outings for a field comprising GTs and prototypes from the 1990s-2000s. It provided visitors with the opportunity to see, among others, a marvellous Bentley EXP Speed 8 in action identical to the car that won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2003. Note that this grid will again add excitement to the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or in three weeks and then to Le Mans Classic at which more than 70 cars are expected: these will include Audi R8 LMPs, Bentley Speed 8s, Ferrari F40 LMs, McLaren F1 GTRs, Panoz Esperante GTR-1s, Porsche 911 GT1s, etc.

Clubs and activities

In addition to the on-track action provided by the eight grids, spectators could leave the circuit for a few minutes – or a few hours – to feast their eyes on the 1.200 collector cars on display. Among them were iconic and rare vehicles like one of the 455 BMW M1s produced, which had only 3.000 km on the clock, an almost unbelievable figure for a car that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! On Sunday at midday this beautiful exhibition of motor car history was joined by the 205 crews in the Youngtimers Rally who finished their journey at Spa with a parade on the Ardennes roller-coaster. In the Village, the crowd had their fill of excitement with the Wall of Death, a motorbike show. Other activities like Racing Bug, Neo Retro and the exhibitors, scale models, ready-to-wear, books, etc. provided a source of delight for many members of the public.

Upcoming events

Once again this event has been a resounding success so Patrick Peter invites you to attend the 9th staging of Spa-Classic in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, the entrants in the Peter Auto grids will meet up again in three weeks at the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or on the Dijon-Prenois circuit. And on 6-7-8 July, it will be the turn of the major event for historic races – Le Mans Classic !

dimanche 20 mai 2018

LE WRC 2 AU PORTUGAL : TIDEMAND RÉPOND PRÉSENT / TIDEMAND TAKES COMFORTABLE WIN

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PONTUS TIDEMAND A REMPORTÉ SA TROISIÈME VICTOIRE EN WRC 2 CETTE SAISON. LE SUÉDOIS N'A EU QU'À DÉROULER LORS DE LA DERNIÈRE ÉTAPE DU VODAFONE RALLY DE PORTUGAL.

Débutant la dernière étape avec 1'19"4 d'avance sur l'autre Fabia R5 de Lukasz Pieniazek, le Suédois a encore ajouté deux scratches dans son escarcelle pour finir avec plus de deux minutes de marge.
Pieniazek s'est contenté de la deuxième place en gérant son avance sur Stéphane Lefebvre. L'objectif n'était pas d'aller chercher le leader !
Lefebvre a quant à lui cherché à rattraper le Polonais. Après avoir signé le meilleur temps du premier passage dans Fafe, il a attaqué sans relâche au volant de sa Citroën C3 R5. Il termine à 17" de son prédécesseur.
"C'était mal parti vendredi, mais nous avons attaqué aussi fort que possible. La journée de samedi s'est particulièrement bien passée, puisque nous avons remporté toutes les spéciales", a expliqué Tidemand à l'arrivée.
Pieniazek a contrôlé l'écart pour terminer deuxième











“Les conditions étaient vraiment difficiles pour les pneus. Il y a eu beaucoup de crevaisons. Certains pilotes ont aussi fait des erreurs, ce n'était vraiment pas un rallye facile."
Pierre-Louis Loubet termine au pied du podium à l'issue d'un rallye sans problème au volant de sa Hyundai i20 R5. Il a été bien aidé par son adversaire Hiroki Arai, qui a pris une minute de pénalité pour un pointage en retard à un CH.
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Le Japonais couvé par Toyota termine dans le top 5 avec sa Ford Fiesta R5, 9"5 devant Juuso Nordgren.

Gus Greensmith termine huitième, juste derrière Benito Guerra. Premier leader, le Britannique avait abandonné hier après avoir cassé un bras de direction dans Amarante 2. Lors de cette dernière journée, il a ajouté deux scratches à son tableau de chasse.
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PONTUS TIDEMAND TOOK HIS THIRD WRC 2 WIN OF 2018 AS HE CRUISED TO VICTORY ON THE FINAL DAY AT VODAFONE RALLY DE PORTUGAL.

Starting the final leg with 1m 19.4sec in hand over fellow Fabia R5 driver Lukasz Pieniazek, the Swede took two stage wins on Sunday to finish more than two minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

Pieniazek settled for second on the final day, deciding to manage his advantage over third-placed Stéphane Lefebvre rather than needlessly chasing the commanding Tidemand.

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Lefebvre pushed hard to try and catch his Polish rival and was quickest during the first run through the Fafe test on Sunday. But the Frenchman ran out of stages to complete his attack and finished 17.0sec behind in his Citroën C3 R5.

“It didn’t look so good on Friday, but we went out and pushed as hard as we could. We went into Saturday with good speed, no problems, and won all the stages,” Tidemand explained.
“The conditions were quite hard on the tyres, many people had punctures and many drivers also made a mistake and hit something – it was not an easy rally.”
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Pierre-Louis Loubet finished just off the podium in fourth after a clean run through the final five stages in his Hyundai i20 R5. He was helped when his closest challenger, Hiroki Arai, was handed a 60sec penalty for checking into a time control six minutes late. 
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The Japanese Toyota development driver still completed the rally in fifth place in Ford Fiesta R5, albeit only 9.5sec ahead of Juuso Nordgren who went second fastest in the Live TV Power Stage.

Gus Greensmith was eighth, just behind Benito Guerra. The Briton had led earlier in the weekend but retired before the Amarante 2 test on Saturday with steering arm failure. He rejoined on the final day and salvaged some pride by taking a pair of stage wins in his Fiesta.
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FIA WRC Rally de Portugal : THIERRY NEUVILLE GAGNE AU PORTUGAL / THIERRY NEUVILLE TAKES PORTUGAL WIN

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APRÈS LE RALLYE DE SUÈDE EN FÉVRIER, THIERRY NEUVILLE (HYUNDAI/MICHELIN) A REMPORTÉ LE RALLYE DU PORTUGAL 2018 ET PREND LES COMMANDES DU CHAMPIONNAT PILOTES. LES PILOTES FORD M-SPORT/MICHELIN ELFYN EVANS ET TEEMU SUNINEN COMPLÈTENT LE PODIUM.
La première étape du Rallye du Portugal 2018 restera sans doute comme l’une des plus cruelles de la saison : sept des treize pilotes d’usine ont été soit éliminés, soit retardés...
Dans l’ES2, le leader du rallye Ott Tanak (Toyota/Michelin) a heurté une pierre et endommagé son moteur. Dans l’ES3, son équipier Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota/Michelin) a également tapé une pierre et cassé une suspension.
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L’après-midi, le quintuple vainqueur du rallye Sébastien Ogier (Ford/Michelin) est allé à la faute (ES5), de même que le leader de l’épreuve Hayden Paddon (Hyundai/Michelin) dans l’ES suivante, alors qu’Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin) s’est retrouvé sans direction assistée et que les pilotes Citroën/Michelin Kris Meeke et Craig Breen ont été victimes de crevaisons.
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Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) est sorti leader de ce chaos devant les deux pilotes M-Sport/Michelin Evans et Suninen et son équipier Dani Sordo. Les deux pilotes Hyundai avaient parcouru toute cette première étape en pneus Michelin Pilot Sport S5 (soft) malgré des températures élevées.
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Le Belge a ensuite contrôlé ses adversaires pour remporter son premier Rallye du Portugal et prendre les rênes du championnat Pilotes. Derrière, Elfyn Evans, Teemu Suninen, Dani Sordo et Esapekka Lappi ont livré une superbe bataille pour le podium qui a finalement tourné en faveur des pilotes Ford/M-Sport (pénalité de 10 secondes pour Sordo pour avoir percuté une chicane en Superspéciale). Teemu Suninen décroche son premier podium mondial.
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Co-recordman du nombre de victoires au Portugal, Sébastien Ogier repart avec 0 point. Il a aussi perdu son appel de la décision des commissaires du Rallye du Mexique et pointe désormais à 19 points du leader du championnat Thierry Neuville.Sur ces spéciales très cassantes après le passage des WRC, ce fut le chaos également en WRC2, chaos duquel est sorti vainqueur le champion en titre Pontus Tidemand (Skoda/Michelin) malgré un début de course difficile. Le Polonais Lukasz Pieniazek (Skoda) et le Français Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën) complètent un podium 100% Michelin dans cette catégorie très concurrentielle entre pneumaticiens.
Rendez-vous en Sardaigne (8-10 juin) pour la manche italienne du WRC
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AFTER HIS SUCCESS IN SNOWY SWEDEN IN FEBRUARY, THIERRY NEUVILLE (HYUNDAI/MICHELIN) WAS FIRST PAST THE POST AGAIN AT THE END OF THE WEEKEND’S RALLY DE PORTUGAL. THE BELGIAN, WHO HAS GONE TO THE TOP OF THE PROVISIONAL 2018 DRIVERS’ STANDINGS, WAS JOINED ON THE PODIUM BY FORD M-SPORT/MICHELIN’S ELFYN EVANS AND TEEMU SUNINEN.
The first day of the 2018 Rally de Portugal took an exceptional toll on the leading crews, with no fewer than seven of the 13 factory drivers either retiring or picking up big delays.
SS2 saw early leader Ott Tanak hit a rock and damage his engine, while his Toyota/Michelin team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala broke his suspension on SS3.
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Day 1’s afternoon loop claimed five-time Portugal victor Sébastien Ogier (Ford/Michelin, accident on SS5), and Hayden Paddon (Hyundai/Michelin) crashed out of the lead on the following test. Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin) had to cope without power steering and Citroën/Michelin’s Kris Meeke and Craig Breen both suffered punctures.
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Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) emerged from the chaos as the overnight leader, chased by M-Sport/Michelin’s Evans and Suninen and team-mate Dani Sordo. Both Hyundai drivers spent the entire day on the soft-compound version of the Michelin Pilot Sport (S5), in spite of the hot weather.
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For the remainder of the weekend, the Belgian was able to control from in front to earn his first Rally de Portugal victory and ease into the lead of the 2018 WRC Drivers’ standings. In his wake, Evans, Suninen, Sordo and Esapekka Lappi (Toyota/Michelin) produced a thrilling battle for the podium’s other two steps which worked out in favour of the Ford pair after Sordo was handed a 10-second penalty for clouting a chicane on the super-special. Suninen joined the top-three celebrations for the first time of his burgeoning career.
Ogier, who shares the record for the highest number of Portugal wins, failed to finish in the points. He also lost his appeal against the stewards’ decision after Rally Mexico and is now 19 points short of Neuville in the championship.
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The WRC runners tended to cut the stages up badly which caused havoc in the WRC2 fight. The reigning champion Pontus Tidemand (Skoda/Michelin) recovered from a poor start to top the order, while Poland’s Lukasz Pieniazek (Skoda) and Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën) made it an all-Michelin podium in this class which allows competition between tyre firms.
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The WRC’s next port of call will be Sardinia, Italy, on June 8-10.

Watch the highlights from the Rally de Portugal


MOTOGP de France : Marquez: strategic victory… and yet another save!

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Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took a record-breaking victory at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, which sees the reigning World Champion equal Casey Stoner’s 38 premier class wins - and surpass Mike Hailwood's win record. Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was a superb second to take his first podium of the season - and from the front row - with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) returning to rostrum in third place after a more difficult run of races for the 'Doctor'.
Sadly, however, the French fairytale wasn't to be for Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), as the home hero crashed out at Turn 8 on lap eight after re-passing Marquez for second in the fight at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was another rider to crash, falling out of contention on lap one at la Chapelle after making a good start. In yet more drama for the standings, Championship contender Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) made a rare error at the same corner four laps later, making Le Mans another pivotal race in the Championship.
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At the start, it was Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) who got the holeshot from the second row, repeating his incredible launch of the Spanish GP to take off in the lead – and hold onto it. Zarco dropped from pole but then struck back almost immediately into the chicane to take second, with Petrucci, Dovizioso, Marquez and Rossi all close at the front until Iannone crashed out – leaving a gap back to Marquez as the two Ducatis and Zarco stayed close together at the front.

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The Frenchman then headed slightly wide and Dovizioso struck, honing in on teammate Lorenzo in the lead and not leaving long before trying an attack. Getting the job done quickly, it seemed the Italian was then going to unleash his pace shown in practice – but he suddenly slid out of the lead and into the gravel, leaving the number 99 of Lorenzo’s Ducati out front.
Zarco and Marquez closed in before the reigning Champion shot past the Frenchman for second – but Zarco, in signature style, was quick to respond. The second bolt of drama was about to hit the race, however, as the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider then slid off at Turn 8 – leaving Marquez vs Lorenzo in the lead.
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On Lap 10, the number 93 made his move before Petrucci followed the Honda rider through a lap later. Rossi and Miller soon carved their way past the five-time World Champion, who started the race on softer rubber, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) waiting in the wings.
The gap between Marquez, Petrucci, Rossi and Miller stayed consistent, with all four exchanging quickest laps. That was until six-time World Champion Marquez pulled the pin on Lap 16, setting the fastest lap of the race to bridge to gap to a second over the chasing GP18. From there, Marquez was able to stretch the gap tenth by tenth, with Petrucci also keeping nine-time World Champion Rossi at bay. Pedrosa was later able to pass Lorenzo for fifth, with the Ducati rider having to settle for sixth.
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Further down the order, after failing to get the start he was looking for, last year’s winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) made his way back up to seventh after being outside the top ten for the first half of the race. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) had a great ride, holding onto eighth until the last lap but then coming home ninth. Passing him on the last lap was a superhuman Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who had a magnificent ride battling to P8 from 13th on the grid – riding through the pain barrier after a huge highside on Saturday.
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Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) battled with Viñales and Espargaro throughout the race, eventually rounding out the top ten in his first ride at the track in the premier class, having missed the event in 2017 due to injury. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) picked up another solid result in P11 for some more good points for KTM, with Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) eventually getting the better of Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) to finish as top rookie.
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That’s it for Le Mans, and it’s now time to gear up for Mugello. Marquez extends his Championship lead to 36 points but the Italians will be out in force to try and stop him – can his momentum be stalled?

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The Championship leader was victorious in Le Mans, but there was more to it than just your typical race win


Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) continued to stamp his authority on the 2018 World Championship at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking his third straight victory of the season to extend his overall standings lead to 36 points over compatriot Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
His Le Mans victory also meant he equaled Casey Stoner’s 38 premier class wins record, a great achievement for the six-time World Champion, but there was more to Marquez’ victory than the 25 points he earned. The number 93 was the only rider on the grid to race with harder rear Michelin compound tyre, something that he tried in the morning warm up. “The first move was on the tyre choice, I was the only rider with hard rear, this morning I feel really good and this was key for the race, I was able to keep a constant pace,” explained a strategic Marquez.
That was his first “move”, in a race where the reigning Champion reminded everyone he has the tactics as well as the speed. After getting edged out by Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) at Turn 3, then almost hitting Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) when the Italian fell at la Chapelle, Marquez told himself to keep cool, and wait for his tyres to reach optimum temperature.
“Then we started the race, I knew the first two laps I would struggle because it takes time to get the correct temperature. Then everything becomes more difficult, Johann overtook me on the third corner, I was wide then Iannone overtook me, then he crashed on Turn 5, I nearly hit him, two riders overtook me and then I say ok, cool down a little bit.”
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Then, Marquez admits to having his radar firmly set on Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), before the Italian crashed out of the lead. “And then I was pushing hard, trying to get the correct temperature in the tyres. I was looking at Dovi, because he had the best pace all weekend, he crashed and then my approach to the race changed a little bit,” expressed the Repsol Honda rider. “Then I was more clam, I took my time, because I saw that the front tyre was so critical.”
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Turn 3 was a particular corner Marquez was approaching with caution during the race, after the Spaniard crashed there during FP3. That fall though, as he explains, helped him save another potential lowside during the race. “Yeah in Turn 3 I had a moment like I did in FP3, I crashed there, and this crash helped me to save (this one) in the race, because when I crash in Turn 3, since that moment during the race I was always careful there. My elbow was so stiff, it was like a stick and then yeah when I lost the front I just put the elbow (down) and I picked up the bike.”
The race in Le Mans was another that, like Jerez, played right into the hands of Marquez. But next up its Mugello and a very different track – on very different turf. Can he extend his lead again in Italy? Find out next time out on 3rd June.
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