Bring it on home: Bagnaia, Baldassarri and Pasini reload

Italy is ready for the intermediate class – but are they ready for Mugello?

Last time out at Le Mans it was a duel at the front once more – with Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) escaping the field before Bagnaia was able to pull away for another stunning win. Now it’s time for the very different Mugello, a haven of speed in the Tuscan hills – home turf for the Italian. That will be a special kind of motivation on Sunday, the kind that goes beyond the normal will to win - and Marquez will know that, and know the value of winning in ‘enemy’ territory.

In Spanish GP, it was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) who did that and took the spoils with his first win of the year – and first since 2016 – but he’s now the one needing to bounce back after crashing out in France. Although friends with Bagnaia off track, one will surely do everything to defeat the other on track and on home turf – as well as whoever else gets in his way.

The man chasing Championship leader Bagnaia could have something to say about that, however. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira is, despite some tougher races so far, second in the standings and looking for his first win of the year after ending 2017 with three on the bounce. His teammate Brad Binder has some serious pace, too, and KTM will want to hit back against Kalex. Then there’s Xavi Vierge fresh from his stunning ride through the field in France, with the Spaniard forced to start from the back after a technical problem and then rounding out the top five. With the pace to do that from the back, what could Vierge do starting from the front?

The headline act at Mugello, however, is veteran Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). He may have only had one podium this season so far, but that podium was a win as he took the Argentina GP in style. And last year? Pasini put on an incredible show at Mugello, fighting it out from the first lap to the last to take his first win since 2009. That year, he also won at the track in the 250 World Championship and in 2006, he did it on a 125. The field could have their hands full through ‘Casanova’ and ‘Savelli’ once again.

The cast of home heroes and title contenders is ready for the Italian GP, with the battle set to commence on Sunday at 12:20 (GMT +2).