While much focus is on the fight for MotoGP title supremacy between Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, there is an equally tense battle going on in the Repsol Honda pit box.
Lorenzo and Rossi are nine points apart at the head of the standings, but Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa are only separated by two points heading into round four at Mugello this weekend.
Currently it is Dovizioso who holds the advantage over Honda's traditional team leader Pedrosa, whom Dovi overtook for third place on the final lap last time out at Le Mans.
That result marked his second podium of the season and put him back ahead of Pedrosa for third in the championship. Dovizioso crossed the finish line 7.872sec behind race winner Lorenzo, but only 2.2sec from runner-up Rossi.
“We are so happy. We confirmed the podium in Le Mans and so we arrive here with a lot of motivation. We are really confident. Our bike is better than last year,” said Dovizioso on Thursday at Mugello.
“We didn't fight for victory, but we are really close. This is very important. If we improve again we can fight with [the Yamahas].
“Mugello is my home race, it is a fast track with a long straight, so we are confident,” he added.
Dovizioso finished fourth in last year's wet/dry race, which was his first for Repsol Honda on Italian asphalt.