Home turf & enemy territory: who will make a statement at Mugello?

The most recent winner, Bagnaia, keeps spoiling the party for some home heroes – now they have chance to hit back

Barcelona hosted a weekend of shock twists, incredible racing and enough storylines to fill a season review, and yet we’re only six Grands Prix deep. Now it’s time to hit the road to Mugello for the Gran Premio d’Italia Brembo, with statement after statement already made and more sure to come as Championship leader Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and eight-time world Champion Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) continue to duke it out. Ducati also continue to consider their 2025 line-up.

At the Catalan GP, however, it wasn’t a three-way fight at the front. This time it was a Bagnaia-Martin duel on Sunday, and after the #1 had put himself on the back foot after a crash out the lead in the Tissot Sprint. It was as close as a race in May can be to a must-win, but win he did. After victory in the last two Italian Grands Prix, including the double last year, that puts the target straight on Bagnaia’s back at Mugello.

For Martin, though, it wasn’t quite a must-win – neither on Saturday nor Sunday. It was a weekend where he wasn’t the fastest but another where he leaves with a protected lead and some very good points. His willingness, too, to take points in the Sprint – even when that meant missing out on the podium – speaks to a rider playing the long game, and his 39-point lead speaks to it paying off. Mugello offers a very tempting statement though: the chance to win in enemy territory. That’s something Bagnaia has now done in the last three Grands Prix in Spain.

Marc Marquez, meanwhile, has one focus first: qualify better. In France he still managed to charge up to the fight for the win, but in Barcelona he “only” managed to fight for the rostrum. Twice. With that though, he remains very much in contention near the top of the Championship, and that’s more than slightly worrying for his rivals if he does qualify much further forward. Mugello is also enemy territory, with plenty the #93 could say with a win, and it’s also where he bowed out before taking a break to have more surgery on his injured arm. So as we return in 2024, the incentives are overflowing with the chance to take centre stage.

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 They are for the home heroes too. Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) wants to prove there’s more to his current form than protest votes and dalliances with the Stewards, Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) wants to find that Jerez form to overturn teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio’s advantage in the standings, Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) is looking for a step forward and Luca Marini (Repsol Honda Team) even more so. They all know Mugello rather well. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) is also racing on home turf for the team.

Aprilia, too, are on home turf. It’s not just Ducati who want to raise the tricolore. As the “maybe now we’ll get an Italian on an Italian bike” echoes round the paddock from Massimo Rivola, everyone who could win or lose from that statement will be wanting to make their cases at Mugello as well. After an emotional weekend for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) announcing his retirement, he’ll want to show his speed is still very much there at Mugello and teammate Maverick Viñales will want to flip the form book for the Noale factory back in his favour. And that’s after Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) did a fine job of that in Barcelona, qualifying on the front row, leading the Sprint and then taking Trackhouse’s best MotoGP™ result yet, so teammate Miguel Oliveira will want to hit back. Aprilia also field test rider Lorenzo Savadori as a wildcard ahead of the test on Monday as they look to take the fight to Ducati and KTM even further.


For KTM and GASGAS, there’s also plenty swirling about the future but the bigger focus as the circus kicks into gear is simple: move forward from a tougher Barcelona, after their form so far this season has promised more. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) was impressive once again in Catalonia as the rookie superstar took a Sprint podium, but on race day he made his second mistake of the season to crash out of the podium fight. After doing the same at Le Mans, he’ll be absolutely committed to taking a top finish at Mugello, where he’s won the last two in Moto2™. He also has his last chance to become the youngest polesitter.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), meanwhile, scored some solid points on Sunday – after having led and then crashed out of the Sprint – but that’s not why he goes racing and he’ll be raring to get back to that Qatar GP form. With the top speed record in his pocket, set in the Sprint at Mugello last season, he knows he’ll have some firepower to work with too. For Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) it’s a tougher spell as they look for finishes and/or progress, and they’ll want both in Italy.

There’s also a very first wildcard for Pol Espargaro with KTM and seeing what he’s testing ahead of the official test on Monday at Mugello – as well as where he slots into the pecking order – will be interesting to watch.


At Yamaha and Honda, Mugello is more familiar territory in 2024 after the factories tested here recently, so that could be something to watch. It was also fruitful enough for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and teammate Alex Rins to employ some of their findings in Barcelona, so as the paddock returns to Mugello they’ll hope that gives them even more edge. The teammate rivalry is also ongoing, with Rins making it to Q2 last time out but then Quartararo hitting back in race trim.

For Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team), teammate Marini on home turf, Johann Zarco (CASTROL Honda LCR) and Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda LCR), there’s also recent testing data on the table, and a whole battle to be top Honda that rages on. The main mission, however, is to collaborate on moving forward – and ahead of the test there’s another weekend to fight for points, gather information, and then get even more track time right after the Grand Prix. Will that big step forward come home?

That Grand Prix is sure to deliver another incredible chapter for the world’s most exciting sport, and there’s more history on the line. That history-making average gap between the winner and second place that was the closest in the MotoGP™ era before Barcelona remains the lowest ever heading into Mugello: just 1.083s over the first six Grands Prix. And what a six Grands Prix they’ve been! Don’t miss the Gran Premio d’Italian Brembo as the seventh promises just as much.