Eight Ducatis in MotoGP ‘not ideal in medium to long term’

How many Ducatis is too many Ducatis in MotoGP?
Darryn Binder, MotoGP grid, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 3 March
Darryn Binder, MotoGP grid, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 3 March

Desmosedicis will again fill eight out of the reduced 22 places on next year’s grid - following Suzuki's withdraw - alongside four Hondas, four KTMs, four Aprilias and two Yamahas.

Satellite teams are free to sign with any manufacturer they wish and it's hardly Ducati's fault that the likes of Gresini and VR46 decided even year-old Ducatis were a better bet than being first-in-line at another factory.

In Gresini’s case, the move paid off spectacularly: Enea Bastianini won the team’s first race with Desmosedicis in Qatar, the start of four victories on his way to third in this year’s world championship.

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But there’s no doubt that MotoGP, in theory, would prefer a more even distribution of machines.

Each manufacturer supporting one factory and one satellite team had been MotoGP’s long-term goal, but Suzuki’s exit means one manufacturer will now need to supply at least six riders on the grid to maintain the current 22 places.

The most likely rebalancing in the near future would be if Gresini or VR46 switched allegiance to Yamaha, which has been left without a satellite team after RNF’s move to Aprilia.

Given Valentino Rossi’s long Yamaha links, VR46 is often touted for an eventual switch to the M1s, but the team’s current three-year Ducati agreement runs until 2024.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi, Italian MotoGP, 28 May
Fabio Di Giannantonio, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi, Italian MotoGP, 28 May

"We have a contract and an obligation with VR46, and this contract runs until the end of 2024. I can't predict what will happen after that, that's open," Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told Speedweek.com.

While admitting that eight bikes - divided into factory machines for the world championship winning Official team and Pramac, plus year-old bikes for VR46 and Gresini - is ‘not ideal’, Ciabatti underlined that it was Gresini’s choice to pick Ducati rather than accept an alternative offer from Aprilia.

"I understand that playing with four teams is not an ideal situation in the medium to long term," Ciabatti said.

“On the other hand, Suzuki did not plan a satellite team when we made the agreements with VR46 and Gresini. In the meantime it got even worse, they withdrew as a factory team.

“And Aprilia might not have been that attractive a year ago when we settled with Gresini Racing. So we made an agreement for two years. I can't say anything about Yamaha. Only: They had a satellite team and lost it."

Gresini currently has a two-year Ducati deal, covering the 2022 and 2023 seasons, but is ‘expected’ to extend until at least 2024.

Ducati riders won 12 of the 20 races this season, courtesy of champion Francesco Bagnaia (7), Bastianini (4) and Jack Miller (1), with at least one Desmosedici on the podium at every round.

Six different Ducati riders celebrated a rostrum finish.

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