Francesco Bagnaia in top form in Mugello, MotoGP competition assured: Pecco is the favorite!

Francesco Bagnaia is in top form in MotoGP. After his revenge victory last Sunday in Barcelona, ​​the reigning world champion made it clear to the Italian fans at his home race who he has to beat in Mugello. The competition, including Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez, also recognizes this.

It should come as no surprise that Bagnaia will be in top form in Tuscany. After all, the iconic 5.25-kilometer-long circuit is one of the Ducati’s and his own showpieces. He has won the Grand Prix in the last two years and ‘Pecco’ was unbeatable in the sprint last year too.

Marc Marquez: Bagnaia not only the fastest for one lap

On Friday, he took the lead a few minutes before the end of the training session with a time of 1:44.938 minutes and then drove into the pits, refraining from the final time attack. His dominant best time remained. What was striking was that the expected Ducati dominance did not materialize in training – Marc Marquez drove the next best Desmosedici in fifth place, more than four tenths of a second behind his brand colleague.

Marquez predicted last weekend in Barcelona that Bagnaia would perform at his best in front of his home crowd. The Gresini rider saw this impression confirmed on Friday. “He is the fastest out there at the moment. He is not only strong in the time attack, but also in terms of race pace. He has won here the last two years, so he is the clear favorite,” explained the eight-time world champion.

On Sunday, Bagnaia can claim his third Mugello victory in a row., Photo: LAT Images
On Sunday, Bagnaia can claim his third Mugello victory in a row., Photo: LAT Images

World Championship leader Jorge Martin also had trouble keeping up with his Ducati colleague on Friday. He finished the first day in Mugello ‘only’ in seventh place. “Today was a bit more difficult than usual, I had more problems in the time attack than expected. The race pace is looking better, so I’m still confident. Nevertheless, ‘Pecco’ is the one we have to beat. It looks like he has a bit more speed at the moment.”

Will Bagnaia take the first sprint victory of 2024 on Saturday?

On Saturday, qualifying and the sprint in the afternoon await. The Ducati factory rider has not been able to celebrate any success there for quite some time. The last sprint victory dates back to August of last year at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix. “Yes, that was a long time ago,” grinned Bagnaia. “But that doesn’t mean that we are bad in the sprints. We always have a good pace and have been fast in recent weekends like in Jerez or Barcelona and could have won. So I know that I am strong enough.”

When asked why he was strong in Mugello, the 27-year-old explained: “The track simply suits my driving style and my strengths very well. I don’t know if it’s really the best track for me. There’s also Assen or Barcelona, ​​where I also really enjoy driving and always do well. Here in Mugello there are also a lot of long and fast corners, which suits me very well.”

But it will certainly not be a flawless weekend. After training, Bagnaia had to accept a three-place grid penalty that the stewards gave him for holding up Alex Marquez. The penalty only applies to the Grand Prix on Sunday and does not affect the sprint on Saturday.

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