Davide Tardozzi, Ducati’s MotoGP team manager, has re-stated the factory’s intention to renew contracts with current riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo for 2019 and 2020.

Neither 32-year old Dovizioso or 30-year old Lorenzo has seen movements on the contract front in recent weeks despite Ducati stating in January that it had expected to have concluded deals with both riders before the first round of the season in Qatar.

The riders market remains wide open, with the majority of the grid’s 24 riders still jostling for a full-time place on the 2019 grid. In recent weeks Laurent Fellon, manager of Johann Zarco, confirmed the Frenchman is in talks with Ducati, while satellite rider Danilo Petrucci has made no secret of his aim to step up into the factory squad.

“Whatever we will do, we keep saying we would like to renew with both riders,” said Tardozzi soon after the thrilling first race of the season had finished.

“We are happy with both riders. We’ll see what happens in the future. For the time being we have no discussions with them. Everything is fine and we really hope to put Jorge in his position, the position he deserves.”

The Italian’s comments came after Lorenzo was forced to jump from his Ducati at 110mph due to a suspected front brake failure, a dramatic end to what had been a frustrating weekend.

Not that Lorenzo’s frustrations were contained to the first round alone. From February's preseason test in Thailand the Majorcan has rarely appeared at ease while team-mate Dovizioso has continued to stake his claim as the rider most likely to challenge Marc Marquez in this year’s championship.

On the issues Lorenzo suffered in the race, Tardozzi explained, “He faced brake problems. He had a problem with the front brakes. We are investigating this with Brembo. It’s not the kind of mistake of somebody. It’s a technical problem that we are investigating with Brembo.

“Lately he had several technical problems. If the fuel pump can stop working it can happen in his fuel tank or Dovi’s fuel tank. This is really unlucky. We can’t manage which fuel pump stops working.”

How would Ducati deal with the scenario of one rider winning and one coming off a costly DNF at a supposed strong track?

“Obviously we move 51 percent to the guy that has the problem because we have to care about who wins the race, but we have to care even a bit more to the rider that had the problem,” Tardozzi said.

Turning his attentions to Dovizioso, the winner of the thrilling first round, Tardozzi admitted Marquez’s performance, which resulted in a second place and him pushing the Italian all the way, was slightly ominous.

“Dovi is worried about Marc because this is a track more for Ducati, not for Honda,” Tardozzi said. “But Marc was there. He is the world champion and he demonstrated that today, too. All the respect from Dovi to Marc because he knows he is the guy to beat.”

Does he foresee a repeat of the epic 2017 title fight? "We hope so [but] with a different finish! I think Dovi learned a lot from last year. Dovi knows that it will be some races where he can’t fight for the win - that’s obvious. But he will try to maximise the result. I’m sure that he will be one of the two or three title contenders.”




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