By Michael Blaustein
For Round 1, the stellar start of the 4th season of the Encel MotoE World Cup, click here. Click on round 2 if you missed it.
The picturesque hills of Tuscany created the perfect backdrop for the third round of the MotoE World Cup. MotoE found itself at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, a track that naturally waves through a tree-lined valley and has remained virtually unchanged since 1976. But for Energica Corsa electric bikes, this was their first foray into competition here, giving all riders roughly on par. because even the most experienced riders have never ridden this bike on this track.
On Friday, for the qualifications, we witnessed a sunny warm day with temperatures on the track up to 110 degrees. The big story was that two-time World Cup winner Jordie Torres will not take part in the race due to an injury that prevented him from taking part in the second race at LeMans. It was Mattia Casadei who reversed the first time, followed by Eric Granado. In the end, Domi fired 1: 59.206 to win the desired pole position, just about two tenths more than the hopes of hometown Kevin Zannoni in second and another Italian in Mattia Casadei who finished first. Eric Granado was in the fourth starting position at the beginning of the second, followed by a number of Italians, including former MotoE World Cup champion Matteo Ferrari, flying mustache Kevin Manfredi and Niccolo Canepo in 7th position. In 8th place was the lone Spaniard Miqueli Pons, followed by another Italian, Andrea Mantovani. It seems important to note that all 10 best riders are separated by less than one second, which is proof of how solid the MotoE race really is.
With the longest plane in the calendar, this fast and fluid track demonstrates the definition of turning a hairpin. One look at the trail will show where that descriptor came from. Among the longest trails, the Mugello Trail offers many opportunities for drivers who understand aerodynamics and those willing to tuck behind others to use the blueprint to make some dramatic passage at the entrance to Turn # 1, San Donato. So what’s key to watch out for is a group, peloton if you will, as you exit the fast left turn 15, Bacine Angle, if the rider can get out well and put gas on earlier while lining up right behind the driver in front you’ll be able to use the hole they drill through air to get anywhere from 2 tenths to almost half a second. Once the driver picks up those extra km / h, he can shoot a slingshot and hopefully manage to knock out the slower driver as you reach the much narrower corner of San Donato.
In Saturday’s first race, time played a factor as it was declared wet. This means drivers can use rain tires instead of pictures, the problem this poses is that rain tires are horrible in dry weather because they overheat and break down, and although it was declared wet, it was really a bit mixed up. The trail itself was dry, the surrounding sky was very dangerous, but it didn’t really rain from that sky. This is quite a puzzle for drivers: go with rain tires and hope it rains or choose a dry slice and hope the rain lasts long enough for the shortened sprint race to end. Most drivers opted for dry tires and crossed their thumbs.
Even as assistants and teammates held umbrellas and removed fog from face shields, they still kept them dry. The race started clean and Matteo Ferrari jumped from 5th position to second, and Kevin Zannoni took a poleshot from Aegeter, who dropped to third place. The first part of the drama followed when drivers gathered for the left-right corner of Maserati to Borgo San Lorenzo, which opens in a short straight, and Eric Granado in his lushness ran along the back of Niccolo Canepe and his front fender exploded from the front end his machines. Nothing bad was done because no one fell, but these Energica motorcycles are fine-tuned for aerodynamics as well as performance and when part of the body is lost, it can become quite difficult for the rider to steer.
At the same time, Aegeter managed to take advantage of an attempt by Ferrari to pass on his compatriot Zannoni, who pushed each other wide in Casanovo, and Domi took the lead. Getting out of the final curve, Bucine, is important for everyone and the flash to the start / finish straight was the place where Domija was swallowed by the drivers behind him and fell to fourth place. However, riders who used the draft effect to such an extent were unable to pull out the anchors fast enough and were all too hot when they entered San Donato, so Aegeter’s experience came into play and he was able to keep a firmer line. and regain that first position. But Granado was also there, passing Ferrari on the outside of Luco, turn 2 and Aegeter on the inside of the Poggio Secco, 3rd in a brilliant feat and showing supreme self-confidence. Unfortunately, this exchange led to Kevin Zannoni returning to 8th place behind Casadei and Mantavani as they finished what was actually only the second round.
And now the man we haven’t heard much from – Marc Alcoba, 70 Openbank Aspar Team – came in 10th online and took fourth place from Mantovani. With double high-speed rights on Arabiata 1 and 2, Aegeter managed to keep a nice solid line (while Granado preferred a wider later top) and Aegeter gained a small advantage, overturning Granada on Scarperia turn 10, and passed without losing momentum. Aegeter regained the lead, but the lead to start / finish was suboptimal with a tight group of runners pulling a quick left corner and Domi once again in fourth place, while Matteo Ferrari hung around the outside of the turn for courage and determination. Meanwhile, Aegeter had some contact that damaged his front brake lever and he had to adjust it while walking and adjust to the new position of the lever.
As they prepared to complete the penultimate round, Ferrari led from Granada, and Marc Alcoba, Aegeter and Mantovani rounded out the first group. But as Mantovani, the replacement driver who came in instead of the injured Bradley Smith, dived under Aegeter in Bucine, the five leaders once again raced down the start / finish straight. Whether it was the fact that Aegeter had rearranged brakes or was just the last of those who were late, Domi found a way to be ahead and inside the first lap took the lead in the final lap. With 77 out of 11 out of 54, Dominique Aegeter was the one who knew he needed to open enough gap so that the pack he was chasing was far enough away so they couldn’t benefit from his slipstream. Matteo Ferrari’s No. 11 motorcycle, the first ever World Cup winner, came in second. But it was Granado’s machine 51 that Mantovani threw on the line and became the second Italian on the podium.
The next day, Sunday, was a completely different picture, with a day as much as one could wish for. In preparation for the start of the race, there was some tension as the title points range was only around 35 points covering the top 5 candidates for the Cup, but with Dominique Aegeter’s dominance and experience, he could escape with that today. Anything can happen and it usually happens.
The lights went out and they headed for their first pass near San Donato. It was local favorite Kevin Zannoni who cut off Domi’s nose to lead the first round. Everyone ended up clean except Matti Casadei, who found his line a little too much inside and grabbed some grass and dirt, sending him to the floor and almost taking Mantovani with him. This could have some implications for the World Cup, as he was number 3 on the table at the start of the race, just 29 points behind Aegeter.
As the first lap drew to a close, we saw another fall, while Zannoni had enough advantage that he didn’t become the prey of a pack racing in his slipstream. Aegeter, however, dropped 5 places to 7th – and another Kevin, Kevin Manfredi 34 OCTO Pramac MotoE, climbed to 4th place. The other candidate for the championship, Eric Granado, gave himself a lot of work from the 6th position, with Zanoni leading from Ferrari and Miquel Pons in third.
Furthermore, yesterday’s winner and his closest rival in terms of points changed the 6th and 7th place among themselves and opened the door to some of the drivers who are lower on the field to catch up with a very important leading group. Meanwhile, Nicolo Canepa, who fell in yesterday’s race, turned the fastest lap time today and took 5th place.
Rounding Bucine once more to mark the middle of the race, the top 7 drivers began to gather, then crashed in an attempt to break the momentum of the drivers behind him. But no matter how hard they tried, everything was interrupted, with Ferrari and Zannoni swapping seats, Miquel Pons quickly came inside and overtook Marco Alcoba by 4th, while Nicolo Canepa held on to 5th place from the stubborn Aegeter.
The leaders played against each other by two points, and Pons beat Zanoni in 2nd place in the penultimate round. Everything seemed quite tidy for a moment until Marc Alcoba at number 70 made an aggressive move from the inside on Kevin Zannoni’s number 21 SIC58 machine. He was forced wide, which opened the door for Granado and Aegeter. At the end of the fast line, Zannoni, who looked so good all weekend, found himself in 8th place, and Canepa and Mantovani also did well. Get ready for the firecracker in the last lap as campaign veterans battled the hungry young riders. Aegeter made a bold move inside Alcoba on Bucine, and Ferrari squeezed out only a small gap in front. Granado was pushed back and Aegeter was free to fight for his position. These are Alcoba and Aegeter, or Aegeter and Alcoba – they end with identical time and the rerun shows them in the dead heat. WOW.
In the end, 2nd place was awarded to Aegeter based on the fact that he set the fastest lap of the race in that last lap. So they finished with Matteo Ferrari in 1st, Dominique Aegeter in 2nd and Marc Alcoba in a powerful 3rd.
Well, race lovers, you can take a moment to catch your breath, because MotoE will have a few weeks break before it gathers again at the Cathedral of Speed in Assen, the Netherlands on June 26. In the meantime, here is your ranking after 6 races.
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