MotoGP 2021 Journal Round 6: Mugello

© Bruce Allen   May 30, 2021

What beats riding a Desmosedici in Tuscany?


How can anyone think the homeys with Ducati colors on their leathers aren’t going to occupy a couple of steps on the podium on Sunday? I’m inclined to give the nod to Bagnaia, the younger and more Italian of the two factory riders, with Miller and/or Zarco up there too, at one of the shrines of racing. Mugello is perhaps the best example on the calendar of the power of sling-shotting—sorry, slipstreaming—on the main straight. The track design also amplifies the noise in the same area, driving the already-loopy fans insane. Makes for a nice Sunday afternoon if you don’t mind breathing a lot of yellow smoke.

This, and Misano, are Valentino’s Last Stand, Rossi’s last chances to strut on the podium, in SRT teal and yellow, and bask in the adulation of his thousands of Italian fans. He has given them two decades of HOF performance and an Italian presence on the international sports stage. I expect, beginning next year, he will field a SKY VR46 MotoGP team that will be crushing it in the near future. Assuming he ends up with Ducati or Yamaha. If nothing else in 2021, the two brands have established themselves as the clear leaders in the premier class. The championship may remain in healthy doubt, but the hardware not so much.

One of these two brands will win the 2021 title, as it appears our perennial favorite, Repsol Honda legend Marc Marquez, is in poorer shape, racing-wise, than we expected. Looks like he hurried his return in order to have a shot at the title which, it says here, he never really had. I expect him back at 98% of himself next year, the missing 2% coming from the fearlessness he has shown his entire career. His lizard brain is going to try to interrupt during high-stress situations, causing him to pause for a small part of a second. I think he’ll lose a few close races he would have won three years ago. But it’s still going to be fierce to see him back at something approaching complete health.

Regarding 2022, let’s get ready to rumble.


Just like the old days, watching Rossi and Marquez battle it out, except that today it was an FP1 and they were battling for P16. OK, I get it, it was FP1 and they were sorting things out. But while they were sorting things out, four Ducati guys, three Yamaha guys and both of the Suzuki guys were top tenning it, 1.7 seconds ahead of #93. Oliveira in P10 was the top KTM. Weather was perfect, if a little cool; track 86F. I wonder if Rossi doesn’t find all of this somewhat embarrassing. He seems to be trying.

In Moto2, FP1 was again with the Anglos. What gives in Moto2? Roberts, Gardner and Lowes top three? Again, it’s FP1, I’m just sayin’.

In Moto3 my boy Pedro Acosta was loafing in P14 while Andrea “Fast on Friday” Migno led FP1. Watching Acosta reminds me of watching high school soccer games with two good teams and one exceptional player who stands out, who dominates midfield and wins games. Acosta appears to be that player. In a sport full of great riders, he seems to have, at age 16, focus, the ability to instantly measure openings, to know how much throttle he has available, when to brake, when to overtake, and all the things a veteran rider takes years to learn. He brings it with him to Moto3. He is beating full-grown men and making it look easy. Small grown men, but still…

Pedro Acosta may be due for a fall, but he rarely needs to make saves, seems to ride within himself almost all the time. Not reckless. Seems like he is, at his young age, beginning to think strategically; that he is getting good coaching and that he is coachable. His future is so bright he needs to wear shades.

Back in the premier class, old man Johann Zarco is becoming something of a pest, all these highlights, sniffing around the top during practice sessions, two front row starts and three podiums and all. He and the Duc seem to have found one another. He is fast in the wet and the dry. I wish I had put $100 on him to win it all in 2021. Probably around 50-1. Grrrr. P3 after five rounds, trails Quartararo by 12. No hill for a climber.


FP3 in the premier class was instructive. Vinales and #93 missed out on Q2 late in the session, Vinales sliding out late and Marquez not having enough shoulder to sneak into the top ten on his last flying lap. Both Suzukis and the factory KTMs pass GO, collect $200. The spread between P1 and P10 in FP3 was 4/10ths.

About Pecco Bagnaia. 24 years old during Year II of the Marquez Interregnum. Sets a new track record in FP3. The freaking CEO of Ducati Corse drops by in shirtsleeves to say ‘hey’. A tightly-wrapped young Italian hunk on Italian hardware in Mugello, fighting for the title. How can this guy not have full-time wood issues?

Other notables trudging off to Q1: Nakagami, Rossi, Alex Marquez. Rossi has been sucking canal water all weekend. June looms.

Moto2 FP3: Oh great. Sam Lowes is fast in practice again. We can look forward to another front row start and early crash out of contention. The stunned, chagrined look. The piles of brightly-painted fiberglass scrap. The guys in the garage grabbing their faces, thinking, “Not again.” Wishing we were watching Moto3 or GP.

Is it just me, or do Bezzechi, Bastianini, the other Italian riders with big hair, consider themselves the second coming of Marco Simoncelli? Tall, brash, wild-haired, ultimately fast, too fast…

For those of you who don’t ride competitively but do what we east coast types call body surfing, I’m pretty sure the sensation of catching a Mugello slipstream is similar to the sensation of catching a big wave that you know will carry you a long way. In the surf, it’s getting on top of it. On the track, I expect it’s being in it. Letting the laws of physics do the hard work.

Qualifying in MotoGP was a hoot, as long as you’re not a big Maverick Vinales fan. The Spaniard made a mistake (perhaps we should call it a Mav) in FP3 which kept him from passing through to Q2. Then, a second Mav during Q1 cause him to fail to pass through at all, leaving him starting Sunday’s race from P13, effectively taking him out of contention. Again. Fabio was incandescent once more during Q2, seizing his fourth pole in succession. He was joined on the front row by my boy Pecco Bagnaia and a late-arriving Johann Zarco. The second row would include interloper Aleix Espargaro, who almost rode the slipstream to a front row start, Jack Miller, looking dangerous, and KTM pilot Brad Binder in P6. [Pop Quiz: When was the last time the three series leaders lined up, in order, on the front row? Our crack research staff is doing jellybean shooters and bong hits in Bruce’s Digital Library and should have an answer for us by, say, early 2023.]

Over in Moto3 rookie Pedro Acosta made it into the front row for Sunday, flanked by Tatsuki Suzuki on pole and Gabriel Rodrigo in P3. Swiss rider Jason Dupasquier was airlifted to a nearby hospital with injuries suffered in a Q2 mix-up with Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki and Spaniard Jeremy Alcoba. Dupasquier fell and was then hit by another bike; this is how bad injuries take place in MotoGP. Keeping my ears out to pick up any word on the young man’s condition. UPDATE: MOTOGP ANNOUNCED RIGHT BEFORE THE PREMIER CLASS RACE THAT DUPASQUIER HAD SUCCUMBED TO HIS INJURIES. A MINUTE OF SILENCE WAS OBSERVED IN HIS HONOR. HE WAS 19 YEARS OLD.

Moto2: Q1 gave us a feel-good moment when young Fermín Aldeguer, filling in on the MB Conveyors Speed Up team, laid down a fast lap and led four riders into Q2, including Somkiat Chantra, Marcos Ramirez and Bo Bendsneyder. Q2, in turn, gave us what are becoming the Usual Suspects in the first two rows, headed by Raul Fernandez, who has MotoGP written all over him. Joining him are Sam Lowes, underachiever Jorge Navarro, Remy Gardner, FDG (still having trouble spelling his last name, way too many N’s), Tony Arbolino and Marco Bezzecchi (P7).


Moto3 was its usual frantic self, a 15-rider lead group for most of the 20 laps, the slipstream effect moving riders eight places—either way–in a kilometer. It is still the best racing on the planet. The eventual winner today, Dennis Foggia, won for the first time in 2021 and has nothing going on re the championship.  He was joined on the podium today by The series leader, Pedro Acosta, held the lead for parts of the day but, at the end, got swallowed up and finished in P7, subsequently dropped to P8 for exceeding track limits on the final lap rules is rules blah blah blah. I don’t think the point this cost him will have much of anything to do with the final standings. After six rounds, the top four looks like this:

P Acosta                111

J. Masia                   59

A Sasuki                  57

S. Garcia                  56

Once again, Acosta finishes well down in the points and retains the lion’s share of his 2021 lead. That’s how you do it. BTW, KTM has a surfeit of fast young Spanish riders—Acosta, Masia, Raul Fernandez, etc. The boys on the KTM MotoGP bikes will begin feeling the heat as the season progresses, notably Lecuona and Petrucci.

Moto2 was another exhibition of the strength of the Ayo KTM team, as series leaders Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez fought to the end, with Gardner emerging on top after gazing at Fernandez’s posterior all day. Joe Roberts had just got done dusting Marco Bezzecchi for the third podium spot at the flag when he was advised he was being dropped down a notch for exceeding track limits on the final lap, as picky a foul as you’ll ever see, if you missed the MotoGP race in which first Miguel Oliveira, then Joan Mir, were assessed the same penalty for the same reason. The fact that the penalties were imposed one at a time in the MotoGP race resulted in the final standings reflecting what actually happened, as opposed to the Moto2 result, about which Bezzecchi seemed to feel bad.

The MotoGP race featured a master class from young Fabio Quartararo, who led virtually wire-to-wire and was never seriously challenged after winning the holeshot. Lap two saw first Marc Marquez, then Pecco Bagnaia, slide out of the competition, narrowing the competitive field. Zarco, KTM’s Miguel Oliveira and Suzuki champion Joan Mir all gave chase, and all gave in, as Fabio was not going to be denied today. Toward the end of the race Rins, Nakagami and Pirro all crashed out, artificially elevating the point hauls for several lower tranche riders. After six rounds #20 has stretched his lead over second place Johann Zarco to 24 points, with Bagnaia two points farther back. Miller, Mir and Vinales complete the six riders within shouting distance of the leaders.

The “exceeding track limits” rule needs to be changed. Keep the rule the same but change the language regarding enforcement to one of the judges’ discretion, so long as the tire is not more than halfway on the green, at which point the penalty is automatic. Since the penalty could be imposed whenever any part of the tire is on the green, this would eliminate any complaints that a rider’s tire was less than halfway out of bounds. Silly, meaningless infractions like we saw today would not be imposed, and Joe Roberts would have had a podium.

Everything else you need to know can be found on the MotoGP website or at We look forward to bringing you the festivities from Barcelona next week. Four races in five weeks is a lot. I need a nap.

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Fernandez and Gardner running at Mugello. Your eyes are not going bad.

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27 Responses to “MotoGP 2021 Journal Round 6: Mugello”

  1. Michael H Coleman Says:

    Hello Bruce,
    It looks like Fabulous Quartararo has his own ideas of what a ‘flag to flag’ should look like. I wish Jack Miller could have been able to justify his new contract but there is always next time.
    Old Mike
    From Ontario, Canada

    Liked by 2 people

  2. No-longer-orange Buell guy Says:

    Man, watching that happen to Joe just sucked. That’s the second time he’s been bumped from a podium position, and this time it wasn’t racing that caused it. I feel like last lap demotion penalties are just getting ridiculous especially after Miguel/Joan. Moto 2 was crazy with all the crashes today, especially with Sam on his way to catch Raul. But watching Cam in the standings is getting better and better. I honestly think he’ll be the best of the rest (meaning not the usual suspects) by the end of the season. I’m glad he didn’t crash out this time. I’m glad to see KTM doing well again, I hope it continues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No-longer-orange Buell guy Says:

      Fabio is doing brilliant this year. I see him winning the championship if his form and the bike keeps up. I really want to see Zarco/Pecco win at least one race each. They’re both always so close but ultimately not able to finish on top. Zarco is seriously reminding me of his 2017 self again with how fast he is.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Starmag Says:

    “Our crack research staff is doing jellybean shooters and bong hits in Bruce’s Digital Library and should have an answer for us by, say, early 2023.”

    Sounds like my kind of job. Too bad I know what the pay is like.

    Kudos to El Diablo. He wasn’t able to keep this up last year, but if he does he’s going to be dominant like Antman. He’s making the excuses of the other Yamaha riders look like what they are, lame. Demoting Methuselah for El Diablo is looking like a pretty smart move by Yamaha right now.

    Unflashy Mr. Consistency M1r is hanging in there, as are the top 5 or 6, but they all need a DNF from El Diablo.

    Alex Bins is risking his job. Understatement.

    What happened to Ant brother? It seemed like he found some pace last year, but has dropped like a rock.

    Antman is having a rough go of it right now. Everybody has to take the bad with the good. Antman haters loved to say that the Honda is the best bike on the track , as though he had nothing to do with all those championships. lol. Yeah, no. Best bike at high-sides maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Prakasit Says:

    Just got done watching Brad Binder interview. What a stud, riding most of the race with the air bag deploy.
    I smell desperation coming from Marquez the elder. I think he should treat the rest of the year as one big FP. I am hopeful he can come back next year and mix it up with the new kids on the block.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Old MOron Says:

    Moto3 was fantastic. I had my hopes up for Naughty Fenati. He was right there for the entire race. Even led a few laps. Then he fell victim to the slip stream swarm on the penultimate lap.

    Moto2 I was actually rooting for Sam. Poor blighter. And Joe Roberts, damn, so near yet so far. Andiamo, Joe! The race was pretty good and pretty processional at the same time.

    MotoGP was fun. Happy for the Froggies. I like them both.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Buzz Says:

    I can’t imagine Rossi would come back for another year at this pace. Has he lost THAT much or is he in self-preservation mode? If I had his cash, I would ride around and wave and make sure I was able to spend it in my old age.

    We got an example of what can happen, sadly, in Moto 3

    Liked by 1 person

    • Allison Sullivan Says:

      We see these guys crash, and get up and walk away so often, it’s easy to forget that sometimes they don’t. I feel sorry for Ayumu Sasaki and Jeremy Alcoba too … there’s absolutely nothing they could have done, but that still wouldn’t stop them feeling like it was somehow their fault. Sad all around.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Buzz Says:

        And let’s not forget, Rossi and Maverick were almost killed or brutally injured at the Austria race last year. Don’t think that image of the cartwheeling 150 mph ghost ride isn’t still in his head.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bruce Allen Says:

          Two good points. But this entire conversation is driven by money and ego. Money, because he remains a cash cow for Yamaha. Ego, because the accomplishments of the young Rossi are being used to paper over the obvious miss on his sell-by date. How does one tell a legend it’s time to move on? Lucky to be ambulatory at age 42. Walk away while you can.


    • vassilg Says:

      Rossi once sad that riding is everything he knows. Probably his brain is locked to racing. His been married to the sport 38 years, so the divorce is not easy. The grid is big enough so let the fella do what he like. Just look at Lorenzo – I am sure he does not enjoy his life with all that cash.
      We should be concerned more about Marquez and his. There are a lot more crashes to come.


      • Bruce Allen Says:

        Excellent comment. But Rossi’s ego won’t allow him to pedal around with the guys trying to score points for long. 25 seconds off the lead at the end at Mugello. I say go be a rock and roll owner/manager, put some Italian kids on Ducatis and roll on.


  7. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Big winner this weekend – the track limits.

    Fabio’s win this weekend was Jorge Lorenzo circa 2015 or Marc Marquez circa anything later. Clockwork and flawless. it’s interesting watching the differences between the bikes this season – Fabio and Frankie making the most of the obvious agility and good handling of the Yamaha, the Ducatis blazing fast, the Suzukis good with tire management and handling but still missing that tweak of speed. It was really good to see the KTM’s in there dicing it up this weekend too, after a few rounds spent partying in the back. Miguel Oliviera’s start was a flyer and he rode it all the way to the end, good for him.

    One feels for Marc Marquez – the brain is firing but the body still has a lot of catching up to do. Patience, grasshopper.

    If Alex Rins isn’t careful, he’ll find Frankie Morbidelli in his seat next season.

    Speaking of Frankie, if that dude didn’t have bad luck he’d have none. Rolled and bowled out of the running two weeks in a row – he must be looking for the sign on his bike that says “hit me”. Taka hit the deck late while lapping pretty quickly, he’s doing well this season but staying upright would help immensely.

    Didn’t get a chance to see the minors, but looks like excellent finishes for Joe Roberts and Cam Beaubier in Moto2. I was excited that Tatsu stayed rubber side down and got pole in Moto3, but then got pinched out in the race (seriously, the racing in Moto3 is ridiculous – one corner you can go from 1st to 10th. Where you end up between the last corner and the finiish line can be a crapshoot).

    What happened with Enea Bastianini running into the back of Zarco’s bike at the start? The commentary team seemed to think it was Zarco’s fault for braking unexpectedly, but that was a hell off an off.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Bruce Allen Says:

    Allison–I have now tried twice to reply to your comment. I’d like you to consider writing the race summaries for Assen and Sachsenring, just MotoGP, not the other two. I’m going to be at the beach with the fam, in the water with the grands, a higher and better use of my time. Think about it, we can work out the logistics later. You see stuff in these races I miss, and your style is cool.


    • Old MOron Says:

      I second Brucey’s plan. C’mon, Allison!


    • Allison Sullivan Says:

      Hahaha. Absolutely not. For all that I love to read about and watch this stuff, yours is the only commentary that literally makes me laugh out loud, and the first report I read after the race. You’re a national treasure, Bruce. Keep on being awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Old MOron Says:

        Too bad. There’s a lot to talk about.
        Bins can’t even stay on a bicycle.
        Pop Gun gets a new crew chief – and it’s Silvano Galbusera!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Starmag Says:

        Agreed about why we prefer Bruce’s commentary. The humor. There’s a lot of places to read commentary, but not that.

        Well that’s a shame. Like Bruce, I like your style.

        I don’t upvote comments here as much as I would if it was easier to do so. Consider yourself upvoted many times. Along with a lot of others.


        • Bruce Allen Says:

          Were you reading this stuff in 2009, when it was 75% my BS and 25% of the little I knew about the sport? Used to hang nicknames on riders, leave them on for years. Pokey Canepa. The real editors–Kevin, Dennis–hated it. But the guy who wrote the checks loved it.


          • Starmag Says:

            I’ve been reading MO since JB got there, and that’s when I started reading your stuff, so yes.

            I can get “Just the facts ma’am” anywhere. I’m sure you consider your current reporting more professional, but I found the old stuff more entertaining, even if you got somethings wrong occasionally or whatever. As for Kevin and Dennis, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.


          • Old MOron Says:

            The guy who wrote the cheques? In 2009? Wait, that was VerticalScope. You mean they weren’t a bunch of hosers back then?

            Oh wait, maybe it was still Big Dirty who wrote the cheques back then. Those hosers in Toronto got rid of him.

            Truth is that my interest in MO has waned ever so slightly. They’re still the best, but their tone has changed a little bit.


  9. Vrooom Says:

    4 crashes out in a row for Rins, that has to have Suzuki shaking their head, especially while Mir pilots the bike to 3rd. The Bag man crashing out was painful, he looked like he was crushed, but perhaps not as much as Rins who sat kicking the wall. Fabio was fantastic, even I can’t believe it’s not butter.


    • Old MOron Says:

      Tatsuki Suzuki fell off his bike three races in a row before finally bringing home some points last weekend. Maybe Rins’s team should ask Paolo Simoncelli for advice.


  10. Old MOron Says:

    Last year Simon Crafar was asking Alberto Puig if Honda were worried about their motorcycle. Nobody but MarcMarq could ride it. Alberto said that was the stupidest question he’d ever heard.

    Look at today’s qualifying. The highest placed Honda is 12th on the grid. I wonder if Alberto is the stupidest team boss I’ve ever heard.

    Hey Brucey, maybe you can do some of your crack(pot) investigations between now and Sunday – or Monday, whenever you get around to writing things up.


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