Enea Bastianini will hope to crown the return of spectators to his home Italian MotoGP on Sunday with victory and potentially go past defending champion and series leader Fabio Quartararo in the standings.

Bastianini -- known as 'the beast' -- arrives at Mugello on the back of winning the French MotoGP and is the only rider this season to have won more than one race.

The 24-year-old Ducati-Gresini rider has won three of the seven races but is in third place in the championship and trails Quartararo by eight points.

The Italian admitted he was hungry for success at his home race where spectators return for the first time in three years.

"At Mugello, although I feel very good there, I still have not had the pleasure of standing on the podium," said Bastianini, whose best finish in eight previous appearances in all categories on the Tuscany circuit was fifth in the 2015 Moto3 race.

"Who knows whether this is my year."

Quartararo owes his lead in the title race to his consistency as he numbers just the Portugal MotoGP in the win column but returns to a track where he took the honours last year.

The 23-year-old Frenchman, though, was frustrated after being edged out of the top three at his home race a fortnight ago.

His Yamaha has been found wanting for speed down the straights and that could prove his Achilles heel this weekend as the one at Mugello is over a kilometre long.

"All I can do is to give my best," he said on Thursday.

Enea Bastianini hopes to crown the return of spectators to the Italian MotoGP for the first time in three years with victory in his home race on Sunday
Enea Bastianini hopes to crown the return of spectators to the Italian MotoGP for the first time in three years with victory in his home race on Sunday AFP / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER

"But I am confident, it is one of my favourite tracks, even if it can be a tough one when you are in a bad position.

"There are still 13 races (this year's Finnish MotoGP was cancelled on Wednesday) so there is a long way to go and no particular pressure at this point."

Quartararo's closest pursuer in the standings is Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, who is four points off the pace and received a boost on Thursday by signing an extension to his contract until 2024 with Aprilia.

One rider who is out to prove a point and get back into contention is another Italian Francesco Bagnaia.

The Ducati rider -- who was runner-up in the championship last season -- has yet to hit top form and was left seething after the French MotoGP when he fell whilst battling for victory with Bastianini.

"Everyone can make mistakes. I have had time to learn the lessons from that, and Mugello is without doubt the best place to rebound at," said the 25-year-old Bagnaia on Thursday.

Both Bagnaia -- who is 46 points off Quartararo -- and Bastianini, though, will take second billing on Saturday as their legendary compatriot Valentino Rossi is the centre of attention.

The 43-year-old -- fondly known as "Doctor" -- has embarked on a career in a sports car racing series (GT World Challenge Europe) after his nine world titles in all categories.

He will look on at midday as his bike number 46 is officially retired.