While Italians crowded the podium at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, Spain’s Sete Gibernau this year has the chance to set the record straight on his Honda – albeit at a track not rated as one of his favourites.

While Italians crowded the podium at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, Spain’s Sete Gibernau this year has the chance to set the record straight on his Honda – albeit at a track not rated as one of his favourites.

Occupying the podium last year were Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi. In the fourth round of this year’s championship, Gibernau will be looking to cement his lead over the rest of the field and keep the trophy firmly locked in Honda’s chest.

Gibernau leads the standings after consecutive victories in both wet and dry conditions at Jerez and Le Mans, but said “it is too early to think about the championship.”

“I still believe we have a lot of work to do. Last year on this track we had the worst result of the season, but I will be racing to win. For sure it will be a difficult race as the Italian riders will be in front of their public, therefore they will be even more motivated that usual. Plus Mugello isn't exactly a circuit I particularly like,” Gibernau admitted.

Just ten points away, Camel Honda’s Max Biaggi has finished on the podium at all three rounds leading up to this race, though the ultimate prize has eluded him thus far.

“I think that the race will be very hard fought, there are a lot of us who want and who are capable of going well, and I'm certain to be amongst those."

Biaggi will be looking to close the gap with his first ever home win in the premier-class and is bursting to gain that accolade at Mugello, one of his favourite circuits.

"What can you say about Mugello that isn't something positive? The track would be one of my absolute favourites even if it wasn't my home circuit and the venue for the Italian GP. I love every bit of it,” Biaggi said. And being in top form, Biaggi may just bring the surging Spaniard’s spree to a smoking halt.

Current champion Rossi lies a further five points behind Biaggi in third place and would want to imitate his fantastic season-opening race at Welkom in April. Since then he has finished in fourth place in the last two rounds. While he will be hoping to hand his legions of home fans a victory on Sunday, his faltering top speed could be the deciding factor when faced with the Hondas and Ducatis along the main straight.

Team mate Carlos Checa rode excellently to secure a second spot for the Yamaha team at the last outing at Le Mans and both riders are eager to push Sunday’s victory their Italy-based team’s way.

Completing the list of Italian riders is another Mugello winner Loris Capirossi who, along with team mate Troy Bayliss, has had a dreadful start to the season. Complications with their current prototype have prompted the Ducati team to bring along an extra pair of the very successful 2003 machines to offer as an alternative.

Brazilian Alex Barros, who replaced Rossi at the Repsol Honda team this year, is the last rider to have won at Mugello before Rossi started dominating at the circuit three years ago and would hope to continue where he left off.

Honda riders Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden are separated by just two points in sixth and seventh place respectively, but both could be surprised if the persistence by Japanese riders Makoto Tamada of Camel Honda and Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano pays off.

World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson is set to race at Mugello after recovering from broken ribs and back damage sustained in a fall on the first lap at Le Mans. Suzuki's John Hopkins, who crashed and broke his thumb in the same accident, should also be fit to race again.