Andrea Dovizioso will arrive at his home Italian Grand Prix with two podiums from the first three rounds, placing him third in the championship and the leading Honda rider.

The pressure is on both Dovizioso and Repsol team-mate Dani Pedrosa with Honda mounting an aggressive recruitment policy for 2011. Indeed, few predict both riders will stay beyond the end of this season, but replacing them both could cause a lack of continuity.

Whilst Pedrosa and Honda expect nothing short of a title attack from each other, Dovizioso's targets are probably closer to home.

Should the Italian be the top Honda rider, in what is only his second season at Repsol, it could well be enough to retain his factory seat.

Dovizioso will start his home round just two points in front of Pedrosa.

"We're arriving at Mugello in a good situation," said Dovizioso. "Two weeks ago at Le Mans I was able to ride fast, we had a good race and I ended up with a great podium finish - plus we were quite close to the two Yamahas. I think that if I had been able to qualify further forward, we could have got an even better result. So that result has set us up well for Mugello which is a very special track for me.

"The circuit is really fascinating to ride - it's so challenging and demanding to get right and this is what makes it so appealing. Plus the support of the Italian fans is incredible. I like everything here: the people, the circuit, Tuscany, Firenze, the food... I really look forward to racing at Mugello. It's also a special appointment also for my fans gathered at the Casanova Savelli turns, so I'll do everything I can to put on a good show for them this weekend."

Pedrosa has suffered technical problems in the closing stages of the last two races, contributing to his last-gasp defeat at Jerez (fuel sensor malfunction) and demotion from third to fifth at Le Mans (rear brake problem).

However, he (and Dovizioso) should enjoy a mechanical advantage this weekend. The present 'long-life' RCV engine is considered the most powerful on the 2010 grid, albeit lacking some rideability, which is sure to help Pedrosa and Dovizioso during what is traditionally a thrilling slipstreaming battle.

In practice for last year's Italian Grand Prix, Pedrosa set a new outright MotoGP top speed record of 349.3km/h (216.9mph).

"Mugello is one of the circuits you always look forward to because the atmosphere is incredible," said Dani. "It's very similar to Spain, people are very passionate, the viewing areas are normally full from the first day of practice and it helps you to get quickly in the mood for the grand prix.

"We will have to work hard this weekend, for sure, but we are very motivated to improve on the final result we got in France. We are working well with the team, adapting the bike to get the best package possible for each track, and we need to get it absolutely right for the race. I hope we can do that in Italy.

"This season we go there in much better shape than last year and that's important because Mugello is a physically demanding track to ride, especially in the fast direction changes. The strategy for the weekend is simply to be totally focused and get the maximum out of every session," added Pedrosa, who has struggled to cure stability problems with his machine.


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