San Carlo Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri return to Italy for the latest round of the MotoGP World Championship at Mugello, the pair eager to put on a show for their Italian fans.
A long-awaited MotoGP debut for Simoncelli on home turf, the former 250GP champion arrives at Mugello determined to consolidate his status as the top newcomer following the opening three rounds of the season.
Currently ninth in the standings, his closest rookie rival is Hector Barbera, with whom he had an infamous coming together two years ago at Mugello on the final lap, the incident sending the Spaniard out of the race and enabling Simoncelli to claim his first 250GP win.
Two years on, Simoncelli is looking forward to racing in Italy again.
"Mugello is upon us and considering the fact that I could have come away with a much better result at Le Mans than I did I am confident about this one,” he said. “We made a few changes to the bike in France after warm-up but in the race they didn't seem to work - maybe it was because of the higher temperatures.
“It was a shame because I'm sure I could have made up a few more positions but I'm thinking positive and looking forward to being even faster this Sunday. I have always liked Mugello a lot - I won there in 2008 and last year in the rain I had a close battle with Pasini but unfortunately lost out at the line. Seeing all the people on the bankings gives you an extra boost to do well."
Melandri, meanwhile, is on a good wave of form following his run to sixth position last time out at Le Mans.
"I am happy to be going to Mugello with a more positive mentality than recent races. I had a good race at Le Mans and now I am sure we have the right base to start with at Mugello and can continue to work well. I love this circuit and your home grand prix is always a special occasion.
“Hopefully the weather stays stable, at least for practice so that we can work well and prepare for the race, whatever the conditions are on Sunday. I am feeling positive and looking forward to racing at a circuit I like, with its changes in pace and fast corners and all the fans banked around the circuit - it is a unique and fantastic place."