After eleven seasons with Honda, Marc Marquez recently signed a one-season contract with Gresini Racing, one of the satellite teams of Ducati, the Italian brand that won the last two titles with Pecco Bagnaia and which in 2023 completely swept his rivals.
The fact that the agreement between Marquez and Gresini is only for one season is a strategic maneuver by the Spanish rider to arrive with free hands at the 2025 rider market, which promises to be exciting, given that almost the entire grid will be free to negotiate the its future.
There is a lot of speculation about Marc’s possible move to KTM in 2025 as an official rider, and even some nostalgics think of a possible return to Honda if the Japanese are able to make a competitive bike. But the pinnacle of MotoGP right now is the official Ducati team, a destination where, for the first time, the Italian brand admits the eight-time world champion could fit in.
A market that will begin to move in the first months of 2024 and in which, logically, one of the first additions will have to be the renewal of the current two-time champion with the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.
“Now we enjoy the party in Bologna, then the holidays, then we will talk about the contracts at the beginning of the year. What I can say is that both Bagnaia and Ducati want to continue this path together”, said the sporting director of the Rossa, Paolo Ciabatti , in an interview granted to GPOne.
After the pandemic, Ducati made a clean sweep of riders and contracts, establishing salary scales that were put into crisis by the excellent performances of its riders, with Pecco in the lead, but also by the good results of Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini.
An increasingly fragile balance which, in 2024, could definitively explode with the arrival of a sporting hurricane like Marquez.
“It’s clear that Marc is a winner and his World titles prove it, so if he chose Ducati it’s because he wants to win again. For all of us it will be something new and at the same time a situation to manage”, admitted Ciabatti.
The contracts of the four riders under contract with Ducati, the two official riders and the two Pramac riders, will expire at the end of 2024. Considering that Bagnaia’s renewal could be taken for granted, there will remain a place to fill in the official team, with many candidates. With the arrival of Marquez, if the Catalan achieves good results in the first part of the season, he will enter the race.
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
Paolo Ciabatti, Sports Director of Ducati Corse
“Given that we have not yet defined the riders for 2025, I would say without problems that Marc will be one of the candidates for the factory team”, acknowledged the manager, but not before warning that Borgo Panigale will not do anything crazy to get him. “Obviously there is an important aspect to underline, and that is that from an economic point of view we are no longer in that pre-covid period, when a driver like him could earn super millionaire salaries.”
A hypothetical choice by Marquez, even just putting it on the table, could mean the risk of losing some of the young riders who are under contract or under the tutelage of the Italian manufacturer.
“Of course! This risk exists and we are well aware of it. I’m thinking of Martin’s name for example. A talent like him, if he doesn’t go to the official team, could arouse the interest of other manufacturers. But he’s not the only one,” he said , referring to Bastianini or Marco Bezzecchi, the jewel of VR46 who is aiming for the official place in 2025.
Recently, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis explained that he is negotiating with VR46 to become his satellite team in 2025; the Briton supported the need to limit the number of bikes on the grid to avoid a “Ducati Cup”.
In this sense, Ciabatti is aware of Yamaha’s interest, but Ducati has not yet assessed how many bikes it will bring to the track in two years.
“I honestly don’t know. With Gresini we also have an agreement for 2025, while with VR46 the contract will expire next year. We will have to see and evaluate the situation carefully, taking into account that the competition will try to play their own game.”
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