Officially, Ducati Corse has still only signed one rider for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship, with Jack Miller confirmed as moving from Pramac to the factory team.

The only other 2021 Desmosedici seat already announced is at Avintia, where Tito Rabat was named as having a two-year deal with the team for 2020 and 2021.

Rabat is the only Ducati rider not contracted directly to the Italian factory, which thus still has four places to fill and needs to hire at least two new riders following the departure of its current Official team line-up of Andrea Dovizioso (destination unknown) and Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM).

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti has said that both Francesco Bagnaia (on course for a debut podium at Jerez until technical problems, then injured at Brno) and Johann Zarco (debut Avintia pole and podium at Brno, front row in Austria despite a broken wrist) have impressed enough to get new deals for 2021.

However, it is still not clear which team they will ride for.

Will Bagnaia now move up with the Miller to the factory team, while Zarco slots into Pramac? Or maybe Bagnaia will stay put at Pramac, with Zarco leaping from Avintia straight to the Official team?

It appears unlikely that both Bagnaia and Zarco will be at Pramac next year since Moto2 star Jorge Martin is understood to have agreed a still to-be-announced Ducati-Pramac deal back in June.

If so, that would mean 2021 Ducati places for Miller, Bagnaia, Zarco, Martin and Rabat – with one further spot to be filled, most likely Zarco's vacated GP19 ride at Avintia.

A young Italian Moto2 star is the priority and while Enea Bastianini appears top of the list, title leader Luca Marini would also fit the bill.

But with Rabat scoring just seven points this year compared with 30 points for new team-mate Zarco (despite Zarco's DNF in Austria 1, then riding with a broken wrist in Austria 2), the Spaniard might be under pressure, especially if his 2021 contract is subject to performance clauses.

Ducati was expected to make further official 2021 rider announcements 'before Misano', this weekend. But team sources have told Crash.net that the rider situation is still not clear and there won't be an announcement before next week's second Misano round at the earliest - and even that looks far from certain.

In other words, the factory seems content to wait and see who emerges as the strongest candidate.

The Ducati teams are due to keep the same machinery-spec next season, meaning factory bikes for the Official Team and Pramac, with the year-old bikes at Avintia. The 'Covid' technical freeze means engine spec cannot be changed until 2022 for Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.

Dovizioso's manager Simone Battistella told Crash.net that there is currently no further news on the Italian's 2021 plans.

 

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