For the third year in succession, it appears Ducati will have eight bikes on the 2018 MotoGP grid, as sporting director Paolo Ciabatti revealed a deal has been reached with Team Aspar, while "it is just a question of discussing conditions" with Pramac.

Series organiser Dorna is keen for Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM to expand their presence in the premier class in the coming years, with Suzuki and Aprilia considering supplying machines for a satellite team for 2018.

That led to speculation as to which current satellite squads would switch manufacturer at the end of this year, but, with its factory team currently struggling, it appears Suzuki is not in a position to do so at present.

In April, Avintia confirmed it was not for changing, as a renewal with Ducati for 2018 was announced at the Circuit of Americas. Aspar appear to have followed suit, with Ciabatti stating at Jerez on Sunday, "We reached an agreement this weekend."

Considering Pramac team principal Paolo Campinotti's long ties with Ducati and strong relationship with factory sponsor Philip Morris, it's more than likely his outfit, that currently runs Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding, will continue with Bologna machinery too.

"As you know, we have already agreed with Avintia," Ciabatti told Crash.net at Jerez. "We reached an agreement with Aspar this weekend. They will announce it when they want to, but for you to know...

"And Pramac, I think it just a question of sitting together and discussing the conditions. But we are already talking to them about the riders for next year, what is the general idea.

"So I see us staying with three satellite teams next year, also because so far no-one else has... Suzuki apparently said very clearly that, at the moment they are not doing so well, so I think they are concentrating more on their current bike.

"Honestly, the logistics of having a satellite team - you need quite a lot of organisation. So if you are not used to it, and want to concentrate your resources, it is not an easy job.

"I don't know what Aprilia wants to do, but at the moment I think our teams are quite happy with the material and service we provide. So our plan is to stay for next year."

Avinitia's announcement included a detail that both its riders would run GP17s next year. Asked whether Aspar could expect the same package, Ciabatti explained several options of machinery are available for its satellite teams. These options, he said, may be dependent on the quality of rider in a particular squad.

"All teams have some options," said Ciabatti. "From a top option to a lower option. It's up to the team, based also on the kind of riders they want to pick. So they can get a '17 bike, but I think they also want to see if they are able also to sign riders who are capable of utilising [it].

"I don't want to be disrespectable to some riders, but some riders are maybe rookies or so on and it might be better to spend a season on a machine that is very similar. As you can see, on some occasions the '15 bike is still very competitive. So [GP17s] is a possibility, but as I said the teams have a few options they can choose.

"So Avintia is announced, Aspar is agreed and Pramac is quite natural because of our long-lasting relationship with them. So I see it as the same situation for next year."

With Dorna hoping for each manufacturer to supply two bikes to a satellite team in the near future, Ciabatti acknowledges this current situation is not likely to remain for a good deal longer.

"We know it's not going to last forever, because sooner or later Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM will be able to supply competitive material," he said. "And the idea for the promoters, which I fully understand, is to have four riders for each brand: Six brands, four riders each, 24 riders on the grid is perfect."

 

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