Current Gresini Ducati racer Fabio Di Giannanntonio has dropped the biggest hint yet that he will make a shock switch to Repsol Honda for the 2024 MotoGP season, completing what would be a straight swap between him and six-time world champion Marc Marquez for next year - a move that, as recently as a few months ago, would have been seen as totally unbelievable.
There has been constant speculation about the Italian rider’s future in the premier class since it was announced earlier this month that Marquez would be taking his seat for next season in a shock switch away from factory Honda colours after spending his entire 11-year MotoGP career with the Japanese brand.
Breaking his four-year contract a season early to instead join younger brother Alex at satellite squad Gresini Racing for next year, Marquez's move immediately left Di Giannantonio’s whole career future up in the right as the 25-year-old started to find some form in the series, scoring his maiden podium at Phillip Island 10 days ago.
And while he initially didn’t seem to be on Honda’s shopping list as it first mulled over the prospect of promoting newly-signed LCR Honda racer Johann Zarco and then went after other candidates like Maverick Vinales and Miguel Oliveira (despite them being locked into Aprilia contracts), it seems that things have slowly but steadily shifted in favour of the Italian as he’s shown that he’s now developed to the point necessary to give Honda what it needs.
Di Giannantonio’s two seasons of premier-class experience, his knowledge of Michelin’s MotoGP tyres and his presumed willingness to commit on a shorter-term deal (to let Honda properly test the free agent market for 2024) have seemingly moved him to the top spot on the list of likely candidates, with a deal potentially even set to be announced ahead of the next race in Malaysia in two weeks’ time if his cryptic words after Sunday’s Thai race are to be believed.
Previously candid that nothing was yet close to being signed but honest in confirming that his personal manager had made an unexpected trip to the Buriram circuit to talk with Honda management, he was as recently as the Thursday ahead of the race continuing to deny that they were even close to putting pen to paper.
However, that changed after another decent top-10 finish in the Thai Grand Prix, that change suggesting that the 2024 MotoGP grid could finally be set in stone in the coming days.
“Let’s hope,” he said when asked if the result was another important step towards securing his future. “For sure we are working, and I hope also to give you some good news.
"I think there is coming something really nice.
“I’m not in a rush. I want to enjoy well this week, work well with my staff at home to prepare my future, and maybe I will give you something for Malaysia.”