Contract fears loom despite eye-catching form of MotoGP’s “forgotten man”

“He’s the forgotten man. People are saying ‘will he keep his ride in the factory team?’"

Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March
Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March

Enea Bastianini’s impressive form at last weekend’s Portuguese MotoGP have not allayed fear about his 2025 Ducati contract.

Bastianini knows that his deal expires at the end of this year and his bike is the envy of the entire grid.

Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Gresini’s Marc Marquez are just two candidates who would love to ride the GP24 with the developmental benefits that a factory status can earn a rider.

But Bastianini delivered a reminder of what he can do in Portimao by grabbing pole position.

He was then sixth in the sprint and second in the grand prix.

“What I love is that he’s not lying down,” Neil Hodgson said on TNT Sports.

“He’s the forgotten man. People are saying ‘will he keep his ride in the factory team?’

“Probably not. But he’s fighting.”

Bastianini exorcised the ghosts of 2023 when, on his Ducati debut, he broke a shoulder in the first-ever sprint race at Portimao.

It scuppered any hope of a title challenge and has kept him on the back foot ever since.

Sylvain Guintoli reacted to his impressive pole position last weekend: “It’s funny that it’s happening here - the very place that, last year, his season began to unravel.

“Luca Marini made a small mistake and took him out.

“Unfortunately for Bastianini he broke his shoulder blade. It took him ages to come back.

“He wasn’t competitive. He didn’t like the front end feel of that Ducati last year.

“This year he’s coming back fighting.

“He knows that his contract is at stake. It looks like he’s on form.”

It now feels a long time ago that, in 2022, Bastianini won the second-most grands prix behind eventual champion Francesco Bagnaia.

Then with Gresini, Bastianini fought wheel-to-wheel with his future teammate Bagnaia in the closing stages of that season.

He then earned the promotion into the factory team at Martin’s expense.

But his debut season was wrecked by injury, then an inability to adjust to the new Ducati.

But Bastianini did win the Malaysian MotoGP at the end of last year, and remains in promising form after the first two rounds of 2024.

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