Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo slashed team-mate Valentino Rossi’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship to six points with a dominant win at Mugello on Sunday.
Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty earned another championship point in 15th place on the Open class Aspar Honda, following on from the two points the 28-year-old pocketed for the first time in France at the previous round.
It was Lorenzo’s third premier class success in a row after he took the spoils at Jerez in Spain and Le Mans in France to throw down the gauntlet to the nine-times world champion, who finished on the podium in third place in from of his adoring Italian fans behind Ducati’s Andrea Iannone.
“I’ve won three races in a row before but now I want to make it four (in Spain),” Lorenzo said.
“Valentino is having an unbelievable season and he is always on the podium. Luckily for me today, Iannone stayed in front of him so it was four points more for me.
“It is going to be difficult to catch Valentino even though I have won three in a row but it is much better to be six points behind than 29. I just have to keep my feet on the ground, keep working,” he added.
“Yamaha will keep working and this could be our year, so we have to take advantage.”
Lorenzo, who started from the front row in second place, is now only six points behind Rossi heading into the next round at Catalunya in Spain in less than two weeks’ time.
Disaster struck for reigning champion Marc Marquez, who crashed out while battling for second with Iannone after a sensational start from row five, where the Spaniard had qualified in 13th place. The Honda star is now 49 points behind series leader Rossi.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished fourth, while the Monster Yamaha duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro came fifth and sixth respectively.
Maverick Vinales (Suzuki), Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and Yonny Hernandez rounded out the top ten.
Cal Crutchlow had been holding fifth when the British rider crashed out on his CWM LCR Honda with three laps remaining.