Three names on shortlist but the clock is ticking on Ducati's big decision

With Fabio Quartararo off the market for the next three MotoGP seasons including the current 2024 campaign, could the next domino to fall be at Ducati?


2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo made a surprising decision last week as he agreed to a new two-year deal with Yamaha.

The Japanese brand has endured a difficult time since winning the championship with Quartararo in 2021, losing out to Francesco Bagnaia in 2022, before a very disappointing season in 2023 as it marked their first winless campaign since 2003.

Quartararo received interest from Aprilia as a 4m Euro salary reportedly was offered to the French rider.

However, Yamaha more than doubled that offer by giving Quartararo a yearly salary of 12m for the next two seasons.

While that secures Quartararo’s future, it means Jorge Martin won’t be joining Yamaha which would have been in play had Quartararo left.

Instead, Martin’s future could now be locked in at Ducati unless Aprilia swoops in with an offer he can’t turn down.

However, that appears unlikely and Martin, who is the current championship leader, will want to move in alongside Bagnaia at the factory Lenovo Ducati team.

Martin has been the most consistent rider so far in 2024 and last season’s runner-up has made it known on several occasions that he wants to be a factory rider.

Ducati have plenty of options but when it comes to performance, current results and age, Martin might be the favourite to join Bagnaia.

But what about the likes of Bastianini and Marquez?

Starting with the former, Bastianini has looked back to his best at the start of 2024 after adapting better to the new Desmosedici GP24.

Enea Bastianini, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 24 March
Enea Bastianini, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 24 March

Bastianini secured second spot behind Martin last time out in Portimao, and although Martin has been stronger than the Italian so far this season, the Italian is a rider that on his day has proven to be very hard to beat.

Bastianini has also been a very good team-mate to Bagnaia and so the familiarity of being in the factory team, experience and results he has is not something Ducati will take lightly when making a decision.

Martin’s raw pace and recent results says he should be the rider to get that seat, however, Bastianini remains one of the best riders in MotoGP and therefore Ducati might want to keep their line-up intact.

The wildcard here is Marc Marquez, because the Spaniard is arguably the best MotoGP rider of his era, if not ever.

Marquez, like Bastianini, has been very strong so far this season and an argument could be made that only Martin and Bagnaia have demonstrated more consistent speed than the eight-time world champion.

If Ducati chose to sign Marquez alongside Bagnaia, it would mean looking at what he’s capable of doing, rather than basing their decision off of results aboard their bike.

Marquez only has two rounds of experience riding a Ducati, but that hasn’t stopped him from being very impressive.

Marquez could also make a big statement by winning this weekend at COTA, one of his most successful circuits on the calendar.

Of course, the incident between Marquez and Bagnaia in Portimao might scare management away from taking a risk, but equally, putting Marquez on their factory bike would be a big statement and would do wonders for sponsors.

Our prediction as it stands is that Martin will get the second factory Ducati ride for 2025, while Bastianini could be set for a move away from Ducati after it was reported that talks have begun with Aprilia.

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