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de Angelis spurred on by Mugello return.

Alex de Angelis delivered the best ride of his rookie MotoGP season at Mugello last year, when he charged from 14th to fourth.

The San Marinese overtook ten riders in the opening nine laps on the way to claiming his joint best finish of the year. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider returns having claimed a best finish of sixth so far in 2009.

"Things haven't gone our way recently but the grand prix of Italy is a special occasion for us and I am determined to turn things around,” he said. “The new setting we gambled with in the second half of the race at Le Mans worked well so hopefully we can take some positives to Mugello and start out with a good base setting on Friday afternoon, which is what we really need.

“I was on the podium at this circuit for three seasons in a row in the 250cc class before moving up to MotoGP and I had the best race of my rookie season last year, when I finished fourth,” he confirmed. “It would be great to put on a show like that again because even though my real 'home race' is in San Marino I have a lot of fans at Mugello too and I want to do well for them. I'm sure their presence will give me a little extra motivation to produce my absolute maximum."

Mugello has not traditionally been a happy hunting ground for team-mate Toni Elias, who has recorded a best finish of sixth in the MotoGP class. However, the Spaniard is optimistic of returning to his best form in Italy after spending the last week undergoing intense physiotherapy on his right forearm, which was operated on to cure an arm-pump problem before the last round at Le Mans - severely restricting his chances in the French race.

"I'll be in much better physical shape at Mugello,” said the Spaniard, who has a factory RC212V at his disposal. “Since Le Mans I've been undergoing physiotherapy twice a day so the arm feels much better. Hopefully my strength is back too because I need to be riding this bike on the limit in order for us to make the necessary progress with the set-up.

“We have making gradual progress since the start of the season and have taken positive lessons out of every race, so I really hope this weekend we can make that definitive step in quality that will propel us into the battle at the front. This is the team's home race so it is important we put on a good show in front of the Italian fans and it would be fitting if this was the turning point for our season.”

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