While Ducati usually keeps its riders paired with the same crew chief, a reshuffle is needed due to Alberto Giribuola’s switch to KTM next season.

Giribuola was at Andrea Dovizioso’s side as he finished title runner-up to Marc Marquez from 2017-2019.

When Dovi then left Ducati at the end of 2020, Giribuola began working with rookie Enea Bastianini, at Avintia and then Gresini. The Bastianini-Giribuola partnership has yielded eight podiums, including four wins, and a place alongside Francesco Bagnaia at the factory team in 2023.

But Giribuola won’t be returning to the red team with Bastianini and is instead departing for KTM. That's also the destination of Jack Miller's current factory Ducati crew chief Christian Pupulin, who is moving with the Australian.

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In Giribuola's place will be Marco Rigamonti, who previously worked on the opposite side of the factory Ducati garage to Giribuola, as crew chief to Andrea Iannone, before moving with the #29 to Suzuki in 2017.

Rigamonti returned to Ducati to work with Zarco from 2020, at Avintia and then Pramac. The pair have taken nine podiums together, although a debut MotoGP victory remains elusive.

‘A puzzle that worked out well for everyone’

Zarco made clear he was happy to continue with Rigamonti but, with Branchini becoming available and Bastianini needing a new crew chief, the change made sense for everyone.

“I'm super good with Rigamonti, so also my plan for next year was to continue,” Zarco said.

“But when we got this possibility [with Branchini], and also the possibility for Rigamonti to follow Bastianini, it was a puzzle that [worked out] good for everyone."

Branchini, who also played an influential role in Casey Stoner's 250cc career, is currently fighting for another Ajo Moto2 title with Augusto Fernandez, having won the 2021 crown with Remy Gardner.

“What we did before [in Moto2], why not repeat it next year?”

Zarco became Moto2’s only double world champion to date by claiming back-to-back titles for Aki Ajo’s team in 2015 and 2016.

“The work we did with Rigamonti over the last three years has been interesting, but maybe the small things that we can miss, because I'm kind of very sensitive, Massimo can get for me," Zarco said.

“If we can work together like in Moto2 that would be very good. But MotoGP is another category, so he's very excited because there are much more technical things to take into consideration and he is happy to get this challenge.

“He's known Gigi [Dall’Igna] pretty well for a long time. At the beginning we wanted him, but he stayed with Aki Ajo, but now was a good moment - KTM took some guys from Ducati, so then Ducati takes also some guys from KTM [Ajo]! We have kind of a [swap].

“I'm happy. It gave me a really a nice feeling inside to know I will work with him again. We have been speaking a little bit. Already I think in Valencia [test] we can discover the bike together.

“If him being here, plus our work, can [find what] was missing for me, I would be the first one happy.”

Zarco, who finished a career-best fifth in last year’s MotoGP standings, is holding seventh place heading into next weekend’s Valencia finale.

The post-race test will then take place on the Tuesday.