until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Broadcast backing tips the scales in Gresini MotoGP seat battle

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

British Moto2 racer Jake Dixon’s path to the premier class for 2024 may have taken another step forward at his home race last weekend, with The Race’s sources in the paddock hinting that plans being put in motion by British host broadcaster TNT Sports and parent group Warner Brothers Discovery could help nudge Dixon towards a Gresini Ducati MotoGP ride for next year.

Jake Dixon Moto2 Aspar Gas Gas

Dixon has been one of a number of names linked to the seat currently occupied at the satellite Ducati squad by Fabio Di Giannantonio, with the Italian now looking all but set to depart MotoGP at the end of 2023, either for World Superbikes or for a return to Moto2.

Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli is seen as a potential favourite candidate for the ride should his move to VR46 Ducati not happen.

But, with 2023 championship contender Marco Bezzecchi increasingly looking set to depart Valentino Rossi’s squad for the promise of satellite machinery at Pramac and with Honda hunting for Johann Zarco to join LCR, it looks like Morbidelli will instead end up at his first-preference team.

Tony Arbolino Jake Dixon Moto2

That leaves two realistic candidates for the Gresini spot: Dixon, and his current Moto2 rival Tony Arbolino.

Italian Arbolino comes with a better racing CV, and, sharing management with former Gresini hotshot Enea Bastianini in the form of paddock legend Carlo Pernat, it’s easy to see how that deal would make a lot of sense for all involved.

However, Dixon also has his own representative with close links to Gresini: his personal manager is 2020 MotoGP world championship-winning crew chief Frankie Carchedi (pictured below, left), who following the dissolution of the Suzuki squad found himself at the Italian team in 2023 working with Di Giannantonio.

Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Ducati MotoGP

Right now, MotoGP is chock-full of hotshot fast Italians – and while it’s often perceived that riders from some southern European countries get an unfair leg up in MotoGP, it’s in fact normally the opposite that’s the reality, with series bosses Dorna and host broadcasters often able to at least influence some decision-making even if they can’t outright favour one rider or nationality over another.

And, with TNT Sports’ contract with Dorna believed by The Race’s sources to include a clause encouraging the promoters to do everything within their power to help see a British racer in the top class, it’s not unimaginable that there’s a preference for Dixon over Arbolino within the management level of the championship.

There’s no doubting the channel formerly known at BT Sport’s commitment to Dixon, either, with considerable coverage given to the former British Superbike runner-up and with a new behind-the-scenes documentary entitled ‘The Dixon Diaries’ being announced by the channel straight after the British Grand Prix.

Jake Dixon Moto2 Aspar Gas Gas

Their interest in him isn’t just a case of patriotism, either, with the numbers backing up coverage of the 27-year-old: according to broadcast numbers seen by The Race, Sunday’s viewership in the UK actually peaked not during the exciting MotoGP race at Silverstone won by Aleix Espargaro, but rather during Dixon’s Moto2 race which followed.

But there’s another piece of the puzzle which also fell into place at the weekend, according to The Race’s sources, one at an even higher level within TNT parent company WBD.

Moto2 standings

9/20 rounds in

1 – Pedro Acosta, 156pts, 4 wins
2 – Tony Arbolino, 154pts, 2 wins
3 – Jake Dixon, 104pts, 1 win
4 – Aron Canet, 96pts
5 – Alonso Lopez, 92pts

It seems that WBD broadcast executives have unveiled a plan to Dorna for their own high-stakes documentary series to rival F1’s wildly-popular Drive to Survive – something that MotoGP has, of course, already tried and failed to replicate with its internally-produced and Amazon-distributed MotoGP Unlimited show.

As part of that plan, it’s believed that WBD wants a British rider to hook the product on – and with Dixon not just talented on a motorcycle but also loud, outgoing and sometimes maybe even a little too raw, he would be the perfect candidate to take a deep dive behind the scenes with in a debut MotoGP season.

Some of that rawness was on display right on cue on Sunday afternoon at Silverstone, too, when he was interviewed by TNT Sports’ pit lane reporter Neil Hodgson shortly after being taken out of his home race in a collision with Darryn Binder.

Addressing Binder directly through the camera before launching an incredible attack on the South African and his history of aggressive riding, one which culminated with a plea to have Binder banned, it certainly wasn’t an outburst that was everyone’s cup of tea – but it’s very hard to argue that it wasn’t compelling viewing…

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