until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Italian Grand Prix 2023 MotoGP rider rankings

by Simon Patterson
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

There are MotoGP races and then there is the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello – and while 2023’s crowd figures might still be down on the heyday of the beautiful and iconic Tuscan circuit, it doesn’t mean that the weekend is any less special, especially if you’re an Italian superstar like double race winner Pecco Bagnaia.

He racked up not one but two wins in front of an ecstatic home crowd, in one of the first title-decisive steps we’ve seen in his championship defence this year. And it couldn’t have come at a better time given the woes being faced by many of his erstwhile championship rivals as some of them suffered awful weekends.

With some achieving results that don’t show their true potential while others who’ve been strong on occasion or were expected to perform at Mugello didn’t quite hit their goals, there’s plenty to rate the grid by.

Scoring the riders in order based on their performances not just in the main event but also Saturday’s sprint race, it’s obviously all subjective – but comes not just from their final race result but takes into account things like the machinery they’re on and the pre-race expectations from them.

1 Pecco Bagnaia

Qualified: 1st
Sprint: 1st
Race: 1st


As perfect weekends go, they don’t get any better than Bagnaia’s. Fastest on Friday, qualifying on pole position, victory in the sprint and a fastest lap and leading from start to finish to win Sunday’s main event reflects just how unbeatable he looked all weekend.

The perfect combination of an excellent motorbike and a talented and motivated rider at his home race, and if they can keep that momentum going for the next two weeks it’ll reinforce his title defence after a more rocky start to this year.

2 Jorge Martin

Qualified: 6th
Sprint: 3rd
Race: 2nd


Another exceptional weekend all round from Jorge Martin. We’re getting more and more used to seeing him at the sharp end in 2023 as he finally looks to have exorcised some of the demons which have plagued him in the past.

Fast, consistent, and intelligent on the bike, he might not be able to challenge Bagnaia for the title this year but he is firmly in the race to be the best of the rest now.

3 Luca Marini

Qualified: 4th
Sprint: 5th
Race: 4th


On a weekend where it was expected that team-mate Marco Bezzecchi would be VR46’s top performer, the results Luca Marini heads home with are very impressive indeed.

He was unlucky not to have made at least one trip to the podium and it shows how strong a package he has become with last year’s Desmosedici that he’s now consistently a frontrunner.

4 Johann Zarco

Qualified: 9th
Sprint: 4th
Race: 3rd


There’s no one better at stealthily excellent MotoGP weekends than Johann Zarco and he managed that same thing once again at Mugello, simply creeping his way through the pack from a rather average qualifying position – and, this weekend, capitalising to the fullest advantage for his third Sunday podium of 2023.

At a time when rumours about his future are circulating, it’s exactly what he needed to deliver.

5 Brad Binder

Qualified: 11th
Sprint: 11th
Race: 5th


On one hand, fifth in the main race after a tougher than expected weekend and a bad tyre choice would be plenty for KTM and Brad Binder to be happy about.

But at the same time, his sprint race was sabotaged by a penalty for contact with Alex Marquez and the bad tyre choice on Sunday was of his own doing.

Not the greatest of weekends, but it should be enough for the South African to at least go home content with his pace.

6 Enea Bastianini

Qualified: 12th
Sprint: 9th
Race: 9th


Coming into the weekend still very much on the recovery from the serious shoulder injury sustained at the opening round, Enea Bastianini’s stated goal was top 10 finishes in his first proper races of the year.

With those goals achieved and the first weekend back out of the way now, the pressure is off a little bit and he can start preparing for his real return to the front of the field – something that will most likely come after the upcoming five-week summer break.

7 Michele Pirro

Qualified: 17th
Sprint: 15th
Race: 16th


Another standard issue Michele Pirro Ducati wildcard weekend.

He got the chance to try out some new things and to keep his MotoGP racecraft sharp for his testing role and he finished the main event not far off the pace at all.

He was only conceding a second or so per lap to Bagnaia. It’s reflective of just how good he is and how strong a behind-the-scenes role he plays in the world champion’s successes.

8 Jack Miller

Qualified: 5th
Sprint: 6th
Race: 7th


For a rider whose personal history with Mugello is far from a happy one, Jack Miller ended the weekend delighted not just with a pair of decent results but a pair of races where he saw the chequered flag.

It’s not a dream end to his weekend, but he’s happy to take it – especially as he was once again not too far from team-mate Binder.

9 Augusto Fernandez

Qualified: 21st
Sprint: 20th
Race: 15th

Augusto Fernandez

Another weekend with yet more points on the board for the series’ sole 2023 rookie. It might not have been a ‘set the world alight’ weekend like Le Mans last time out, where he finished fourth, but the consistency displayed yet again by the Gas Gas rider is nonetheless impressive as he continues to remind everyone that he is in fact a world champion.

10 Aleix Espargaro

Qualified: 8th
Sprint: 8th
Race: 6th


Without a doubt the low point of Aleix Espargaro’s weekend came before he’d even sat on his bike – but still happened on track, when a big cycling crash on Thursday (caused by his own stupidity) hampered his entire weekend.

But considering just how battered and beaten up he was, regrouping to a respectable sixth place on an Aprilia that clearly wasn’t performing well actually saves his reputation at least a little bit.

11 Marco Bezzecchi

Qualified: 7th
Sprint: 2nd
Race: 8th


For a guy who came into the weekend only one point off the title lead, it’s not particularly unfair to say that Mugello was something of a stumble for VR46 rider Bezzecchi even despite a podium in Saturday’s sprint. He had higher ambitions than eighth for Sunday, and while that was hinted at being something out of his control (and much more to do with the Michelin tyres), it doesn’t change his home disappointment.

12 Lorenzo Savadori

Qualified: 22nd
Sprint: 18th
Race: 18th


Nothing much to write home about for Aprilia’s test rider on his wildcard appearance, just like we expected. But his times were fast enough to not embarrass himself, and he even managed to keep the Italian factory’s satellite rider Raul Fernandez honest, coming home only half a second behind the Spaniard.

13 Franco Morbidelli

Qualified: 14th
Sprint: 16th
Race: 10th


There’s clearly no such thing as a good weekend in 2023 when you’re a Yamaha rider – but when you’re Franco Morbidelli right now, just about the only thing you can aim for is to beat team-mate Fabio Quartararo, and for only the second time this season the Italian did in fact very much look to be the stronger of the pair.

That’s tempered though by the positions that the two of them were fighting for, and it remains to be seen if there’s anything positive for his form from here or his future to take from Morbidelli’s results a long way away from podium and victory contention.

14 Taka Nakagami

Qualified: 16th
Sprint: 17th
Race: 13th


Arguably the only Honda rider to know his and the bike’s own limits this weekend, that’s reflected in the fact that Taka Nakagami was one of only two of its riders to even start the races, and the solo finisher in the main event. Thirteenth is nothing to write home about, but it’s better than a fresh injury, and at least he managed to see the chequered flag by taking the slightly slower and safer option on Sunday.

15 Miguel Oliveira

Qualified: 18th
Race: DNF


It’s pretty clear that RNF Aprilia rider Miguel Oliveira probably shouldn’t even have been at Mugello as he continues to recuperate from the injuries he sustained at Jerez five weeks ago – and the pain and discomfort he was in reflects that.

It was never going to be a great weekend, but a main race crash was probably the worst possible ending as he tries to get fitter not more bruised ahead of the Sachsenring.

16 Marc Marquez

Qualified: 2nd
Sprint: 7th
Race: DNF


It seems right now like the only way to win a MotoGP race on a Honda is with a win it or bin it mentality – going into the race prepared to push to beyond your limits, but knowing that it could all go wrong at any second.

That’s exactly what happened to Marc Marquez on Sunday, with the six-time world champion sounding afterwards like someone who would rather have crashed out of the fight for the podium on Sunday (like he did) than come home in a more distant position.

17 Fabio Quartararo

Qualified: 15th
Sprint: 10th
Race: 11th


The first word that comes to mind when you consider Quartararo’s weekend is disappointment.

This is Mugello, after all – a circuit where he cruised to victory two years ago, onboard a Yamaha considerably faster than the 2023 bike he’s struggling with right now, a highly unusual set of circumstances that you feel lies entirely with Yamaha and not with the rider.

Clearly not enjoying himself this weekend, you get the impression that it also means that motivation and commitment levels are starting to wane – a situation that the factory really needs to catch and address.

18 Raul Fernandez

Qualified: 20th
Race: 17th


For the briefest moment during the Italian Grand Prix weekend, it looked like there was a faint glimmer of improving form coming from Raul Fernandez, as the Spaniard almost made it through into Q2 with impressive lap times. Yet, despite looking like things might finally be getting better, that didn’t last for long – and it was another disappointingly slow weekend for him.

19 Jonas Folger

Qualified: 23rd
Sprint: 21st
Race: 19th

Jonas Folger

There’s a time when you have to wonder how successful Jonas Folger’s return to MotoGP is really being and what exactly he’s achieving. Now the injured Pol Espargaro’s injury replacement for four rounds, he’s still almost three seconds a lap off the pace of the leaders and can’t be gathering too much in the way of useful information for KTM.

He wasn’t just at the back this weekend, but the gap from him to Savadori in second last was actually bigger than the gap from Savadori to leader Bagnaia – of course not helped by Folger losing substantial ground due to running off-track but it’s far from a good look.

20 Alex Marquez

Qualified: 3rd
Sprint: DNF
Race: DNF


Alex Marquez left Mugello not just without any points but with a healthy crash damage bill in his wake – and a lot of what went wrong felt like unforced errors.

Sure he might have gone down in the sprint after contact with Binder (for which the South African was penalised), but it was an error partly of Marquez’s own making – and Sunday’s crash was entirely on him. There’s only so long that you can skirt by on the promise of potential, and it’s time for him to start performing.

21 Maverick Vinales

Qualified: 13th
Race: 12th


A wholly disappointing weekend from the factory Aprilia man, and one that comes with no real explanation for why. We know that the RS-GP wasn’t quite as competitive as Aprilia hoped at Mugello – but it’s not a good look for Maverick Vinales when his battered team-mate Espargaro is able to conclusively outperform him.

22 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Qualified: 19th
Sprint: 14th
Race: 14th


At the end of the season we’ll look back at Mugello as the weekend where Fabio Di Giannantonio lost his Gresini Racing ride.

Last year’s polesitter never looked anywhere near to that form this time out, instead notable only for the rather significant gap between him and all the other Ducatis on the grid.

Unfortunately, it’s simply not good enough for a rider fighting for his future.

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