Ducati boss pressed on rumours Bastianini and Martin will switch bikes

Senior Ducati management caused a stir at Sepang when they refused to rule out the possibility of Pramac's MotoGP title contender Jorge Martin being moved to the Official team in place of Enea Bastianini.
Jorge Martin, Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini, Malaysian MotoGP, 11 November
Jorge Martin, Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini, Malaysian MotoGP, 11…

“As everyone knows, we confirmed Enea for the official team at the end of August,” Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told MotoGP.com during the Malaysian GP weekend.

"It’s true with Martin’s current level of performance it’s a reality we should consider. But no decision taken obviously, but let’s see. We cannot ignore this level of performance [by Martin]..."

Coincidence or not, Bastianini, who has been sidelined by injuries twice this season, then delivered by far his best weekend as a factory rider.

The Italian followed team-mate and title leader Francesco Bagnaia home for fourth in the Sprint, then brilliantly won the Sunday grand prix, also his first podium appearance in factory red.

Although Martin rides for Pramac, like Bastianini, Bagnaia and Johann Zarco he is contracted directly to the Ducati factory, simplifying the possibility of a switch.

“We are very happy that everyone is talking about us, and about our riders!” said team manager Davide Tardozzi, responding to the rider switch rumours on TNT Sports.

“The truth is that the riders belong to Ducati.

“They have Ducati contracts. Honestly, we can do what we want.

“We decide things, we can change things, we can re-change things, everything can happen.

“In this moment, we have no talk about it.

“We never had doubts about Enea. He suffered from his injuries.

“[Why] was he at the back?… Obviously because he is injured.

“Sometimes they want to try to do too much.

“One of the key points was Friday night. Pecco helped him. This makes a huge difference in Enea’s attitude.”

Asked for his opinion, Bagnaia said it would be ‘not fair’ for Bastianini to lose his factory seat given his injury-ravaged season.

Martin said he would be "proud if I continue in Pramac next season, but for sure if Ducati wants me to join with a red bike I will be super happy also.”

Since Martin’s factory move is only thought to be a possibility if he wins the MotoGP title, which would be a first for a satellite team rider, Bastianini will have extra incentive to help Bagnaia in his quest for a second premier-class championship.

Bagnaia starts this weekend’s penultimate round in Qatar with a 14-point lead over Martin, with 74 points still available.

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