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Ducati's intriguing 2025 hint and where Marquez fits in

by Valentin Khorounzhiy, Simon Patterson
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Ducati has acknowledged that the battle for its second factory MotoGP seat for 2025 is between Marc Marquez, Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin - and has offered a window into its current thinking.

The manufacturer is committed to its two-time champion Pecco Bagnaia on a two-year deal, but there remains massive intrigue over who will partner the 27-year-old going forward.

Incumbent Enea Bastianini had a dreadful, injury-ravaged first year in Ducati red last year, but is a much-improved third in the standings now.

But he has arguably lacked that final bit of performance so far compared to both Pramac Ducati rider Martin, who leads the championship, and six-time champion Marquez, who is only fifth but has been increasingly competitive despite campaigning a year-old Ducati.

Speaking to MotoGP.com ahead of the French Grand Prix, Ducati general manager Gigi Dall'Igna acknowledged that choosing between the three will be "a real difficult decision".

He indicated that making a decision in time for Mugello at the start of June "could be reasonable" as a timeframe, because "we have to be fair to all the riders, we have to give them the possibilities to find a way to ride the best possible bike if it's not a Ducati".

But he also hinted at something in Ducati's assessment that, while completely logical in a vacuum, perhaps suggests where the Bologna brand might be at in weighing up the pros and cons of each option.

"Honestly speaking, we have to consider not only the 2024 races, but we have to consider all the histories of our riders," he said. "I think this is important.

"But, it's a really, really, really difficult decision because all three riders are real champions. So we'll see."

That suggestion could be taken as an endorsement of Bastianini given he is yet to replicate, as a works Ducati rider, the kind of form that won him the gig to begin with. More likely, however, it is an acknowledgment of the role of Marquez's track record.

Dall'Igna has been widely regarded as one of the bigger proponents of Marquez coming into the Ducati camp to begin with, and is known to have great respect for the Spaniard, one of the most decorated riders in MotoGP history.

And while Martin's claim to a works ride is unimpeachable on the basis of 2023-24 in particular, speculation is rife that both Dall'Igna and Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali are tempted by the prospect of seeing a rider of Marquez's stature at the works team.

There are significant hurdles to that move, though - as it would both require a resolution to the current sponsorship mismatch between Ducati's factory team sponsor Monster and Marquez's long-time backer Red Bull, and also create a very plausible scenario where Martin, the current championship leader, takes the #1 plate with him to another manufacturer next year.

Bagnaia: 'Bulls**t' that I don't want Marquez as team-mate

In a riders' press conference at Le Mans later that same day, Bagnaia - sitting to the right of Martin and Marquez - was asked which of the two he'd prefer as his team-mate, and responded by turning towards the pair and miming a 'what can I say' gesture with his arms.

He then emphasised that he'd already said in the past he had no preference, before adding: "In these days, I saw a video on Twitter of a Spanish journalist saying that he'd heard that I don't want Marc in the factory team - but it's bulls**t."

The journalist in question apologised to Bagnaia while asking a question later in the session.

Bagnaia continued: "I don't care [who my team-mate will be]. I want just to beat them all, try to be always the best and keep going like this. I don't have a preference, honestly.

"I am working well with Enea, I know perfectly the type of work we are approaching - and, in any case, if the team changes the team-mate we have to restart again, but in any case my ambition is always to be stronger than them."

While professing his indifference, Bagnaia's answer did carry a similar note to when Ducati was last publicly mulling multiple candidates for the seat alongside him.

Back then, Bagnaia was more openly in favour of keeping team-mate Jack Miller over getting Bastianini or Martin, for that same stated reason: because he'd felt he'd established a good working dynamic with the Australian, like he seemingly has now with his compatriot Bastianini.

How Martin and Marquez see it

The Race then asked both Martin and Marquez about their prospects of wearing Ducati red in 2025 and how they felt about a potential Mugello deadline.

Martin, who has repeatedly made his feelings clear that he's done enough to warrant the promotion, struck a similar tone again: "I am very happy where I am but I think the natural position in the Ducati family, where I started and grew up during all my career in MotoGP, I think the natural move would be to go to the factory team."

"I was really close in 2022, last season almost again," he added, referencing the fact that he'd felt he was the clear favourite to replace Miller before Bastianini emerged as a left-field option for 2023, and that he reportedly could've been brought into the works team had he beaten Bagnaia to the title last year.

"It's my goal to arrive there [to the Ducati factory team], and hopefully I can achieve it really shortly. And if not, let's see what happens."

Given Martin already believes that he's been overlooked for a factory promotion, it is difficult to see a scenario in which he accepts an extension to his time as a Ducati satellite rider - although that may well be the next-best option available.

Marquez said his situation was "different" to Martin's as he was new to the Ducati family - but, probably in firmer terms than ever before, he did set his sights on a factory-spec Ducati.

"I arrived here in a very special situation, and now step by step I feel better on the racetrack, I feel stronger, much more confident. And this was my target of this year," he said.

"Obviously, 2025-26, if I continue on that way, will be a different target. And the target will be to fight for the championship. For that reason, if you want to fight for the championship, you need to have the newest material in your bike, to have more of a chance.

"But as I say, if I am faster on the racetrack, I will have more options for my future. And if I have the chance, I will decide the best."

That "best" could well be staying at Ducati as a satellite rider but with factory-spec machinery and perhaps a factory contract. After all, Martin is now contending for titles with that exact status.

But there is no indication yet that suiting up in factory colours is off the table for Marquez.

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