Dre’s Race Review: MotoGP’s 2024 Italian Grand Prix

Francesco Bagnaia channels his inner rockstar to take another home win, and re-ignite his title campaign. Dre prays for a good Italian GP again…

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Dre Harrison Reviews



Read time: 6 mins

“I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs, and a bathroom I can play baseball in, and a king size tub big enough for ten plus me…”

Hey folks, Dre back at it again with another edition of a Race Review, and this time, MotoGP heads to its blue-ribbon event – The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, and the final round before the sport hits an accidental Spring Break. 

And with it, Francesco Bagnaia reminded us all that he is indeed Italy’s best rockstar since Maneskin won Eurovision. Let’s get into how he did it.

Look readers, I’m not going to lie to you, this one wasn’t a classic. Rarely is a MotoGP race won by Turn 2, but it might apply to this one. Despite a three-place grid penalty for blocking Alex Marquez in practise, Bagnaia split the four-wide pack into San Donato off the start, beat Martin on the inside of the left-hander at Luco afterwards, and never really looked back from there.

It was a game of following the leader as the four best riders in the world were stuck in a super-fast stalemate. Every time Martin tried to get within half a second of Bagnaia, the Italian would just slam the door back in his face and push the gap back out. Little did I know at the time we were watch the fastest Italian GP ever – Bagnaia was 25 seconds faster than last year’s race time1, an eye-watering 1.1 seconds a lap faster than 2023. It was a pace that was too much for anyone to stand with him. Martin tried one last assault with three laps to go, but Bagnaia responded again to put himself seven-tenths of a second clear, and on the final lap, it was game over.

Enea Bastianini in third was stuck in his own intense fight with Marc Marquez, with the Spaniard stalking Enea for laps at a time before finally passing him in the final third. But Enea’s pace around the Arrabbiata complex was so strong he was able to get back ahead, and mount a beautiful final corner pass on Jorge Martin to make it a Factory Ducati 1-2 in the Azzurri blue. About time someone in those colours got a dub. And after all, not bad for a man likely taking a trip to the job centre in the coming weeks. (More on that in a bit)

It wasn’t a thrilling affair, we peaked literally right at the very start and at the end, but if one thing’s for sure – Bagnaia at least at home is a rockstar. Two years ago after complaints about high ticket prices and an economy still bleeding after the pandemic, only 40,000 were at the track on race day. This year? 81,000. I’m not sure I can make too many sweeping conclusions on the weekend alone, but for sure his winning in the last two years is getting him new fans. The chainsaw’s were quiet by comparison as Mugello for the first time in a while had a sea of red, rather than yellow. A promising sign that the Italian rockstar’s brilliance is translating to bike fans back home.

The sport badly needed new stars in the wake of Valentino Rossi’s retirement. With Marc Marquez finally back, Pedro Acosta also captivating the Spanish and Bagnaia finally reaching out to Italy, it seems like we’re getting there. 

Ducati was finally supposed to have clarity in terms of their approach to 2025 at Mugello, but we only leave their home track with more questions than answers. While Gigi Dall’Igna said there wouldn’t be a rider announcement for next year during the weekend, Autosport and others have now reported that they’ve chosen Jorge Martin to get the factory seat at Ducati next year.

But what about Marc Marquez? There was always rumblings about Pramac and the possibility of switching to Yamaha’s, but Gino Borsoi shut down that speculation by saying they’re not splitting. That also means they’re guaranteed two more years of having two more up-to-date bikes, and almost certainly Fermin Aldeguer’s factory contract joining the team next year. During the weekend Marquez also shut down the possibility of joining the Pramac team for 2025, citing not wanting to go to two customer teams for two years in a row, and by all accounts, it seems like he’s enjoying his riding again and loves the Gresini setup. 

So now what? Ducati have never been keen about the possibility of running five factory Desmo’s on the grid. Mauro Grassilli, Ducati’s sporting director, shut that down too, with Ducati struggling to manage its budget with two factory rider’s on big money deals, and already running eight bikes on the grid. I personally think having Marc Marquez as an insurance policy on a GP25 would be a wise decision, but how much do you want to risk your own team being beaten? Because Marquez has kept himself in contention with consistent scoring and has been the only threat to the current GP24 on last year’s bike. 

But I do wonder as I often said last year… Did Ducati ever really want Marc Marquez? Because with the Antman’s very public push for current machinery and his form likely better than expected (The nearest GP23 is Fabio Di Giannantonio, 62 points back), if Ducati isn’t going to placate him, the ears of KTM and Aprilia will be perking up. Marquez walked away from $20m to escape the final year of his Honda contract. The money doesn’t concern him, neither do the personal sponsors. He wants to win. If Ducati doesn’t want to give him the best chance of doing so, KTM and Aprilia will. 

Is someone going to compromise? Will Marc just eventually accept being a customer to stay with a team he likes? Will the desire to win force more action? We shall see, but as Dembele once said:

And pour one for Enea Bastianini, who hasn’t really done much wrong, and is about to lose his job. Despite being fourth overall, and only about a weekend worth of points off his teammate. 

And all of a sudden, after Jorge Martin went full psycho in the Sprint and crashed out from second, it’s a very different Championship picture:

Jorge Martin – 171
Francesco Bagnaia (-18)
Marc Marquez (-35)
Enea Bastianini (-57)

Marquez only 35 back off the top on last year’s bike through seven rounds (And a patchy transition), is impressive, but with Martin and Bagnaia hogging the winning, second and third isn’t going to cut it down the road if we’re evaluating Marquez as a genuine contender. And Martin giving Bagnaia nine points for free off the Sprint after crashing was catastrophic. Bagnaia is doing what he does so well as a chaser – chipping away at the target weekend by weekend. 

Congrats to Pedro Acosta for winning the non-Ducati class in fifth, and another rider where you see more and more Sharks in the crowd as the week’s go by. Cool to see. 

Great weekend for Franky Morbidelli, fourth in the sprint, sixth in the Grand Prix, a great weekend all-round for another man fighting for his job.

Joe Roberts winning his second Moto2 race as Justin Marks comes along to say hi in the American Racing Team garage. Do you think Dorna and Liberty Media have had a word yet?

Also, I’m glad Neil Hodgson entertained this notion so I don’t have to – Is David Alonso better at 18 than Pedro Acosta was? Serious question, because the Colombian breaking the tow late on to beat Colin Veijer to the line was masterful racing. Again. (PS: Also love that that’s the biggest Moto3 margin of victory EVER at Mugello. A whopping 0.14 seconds2.) 

PS: Thank goodness Xavi was okay in that Moto3 race. Dear Dorna, I will say it every time this happens, we don’t need a replay when we don’t know if the rider is okay, and we don’t need to see them stretchered into an ambluance.

  1. Credit to Neil Morrison for the great stat there. ↩︎
  2. See above. ↩︎

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

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