until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Ducati's wild Marquez/Martin shootout idea was always doomed

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

As more details trickled out about the dramatic Italian Grand Prix weekend over which Ducati seemingly swung away from Jorge Martin to Marc Marquez for its 2025 factory ride vacancy, it emerged that there had at one point been a wild plan for the pair to go head to head on track for the seat.

And that plan was very obviously doomed to failure.

The idea has not been officially confirmed by Ducati (and it’s never likely to be), but it’s been reported by multiple media outlets and confirmed by The Race’s sources in the paddock.

It seems a simple proposal was put to both Marquez and Martin at the beginning of Mugello weekend: whichever of them finished higher in the 2024 championship would get the 2025 works seat alongside Pecco Bagnaia in place of Enea Bastianini, and the other would get factory-spec machinery at Pramac (on the same deal Martin currently has).

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Ducati considered such a bold solution to its dilemma.

Either Martin, who fought for the title until the final round of last year and currently leads the points, and Marquez, who has been performing consistently better than every other rider on a year-old Ducati, would’ve deserved the 2025 factory ride. And it would’ve helped its efforts to keep Pramac on board if it could’ve firmly promised its satellite team would get either Marquez or Martin.

It’s not the first time Ducati has suggested such a scenario to settle who got an internal promotion, though the last time was rather lower profile.

In the second half of 2016, it told Pramac team-mates Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding that whoever won their personal on-track fight would get the sole factory bike being given to Pramac for the following season.

The plan wasn’t exactly a success back then either, breeding a fair amount of resentment between the team-mates as they went head to head on track in a series of aggressive moves that were as predictable as they were unwelcome to both Pramac and Ducati. Petrucci came out on top by one point.

That, of course, is one reason why a half-season-long duel between Marquez and Martin could have spelled trouble once again. Neither is exactly reserved when it comes to scrapping on track.

It could very well have led to more of the sort of fireworks we’ve already seen this year between Marquez and Bagnaia at Portimao, when the pair collided and both fell - a scenario that is at best a distraction when the main focus is on trying to win overall titles.

It seems in the end what nixed the Marquez/Martin scheme was actually the personal sponsorship contracts that need to be signed well in advance of the end of the season in November.

Take Marquez’s list of longest-serving partners, for example. Insurance giant Allianz conflicts directly with Pramac’s title sponsor Prima. The factory Ducati riders wear Carrera sunglasses, but he has been an Oakley ambassador for a decade. Ducati’s title sponsor is Lenovo, but Marquez has a deal directly with Samsung to promote its technology.

Then the biggest sponsorship factor of all: Marquez’s long-term close relationship with energy drink Red Bull versus Ducati’s deal with Red Bull’s big rival Monster.

None of those clashes precluded Marquez’s switch to factory colours, of course, as was proven by his decision to play his cards, reject Ducati’s showdown proposal and give it an ultimatum to just sign him for the factory seat or lose him, which it duly did only a few days later.

In fact, it seems that at least some of those sponsors will now leave the eight-time world champion as a result of his new deal, although it’s believed by The Race’s sources that the biggest names involved are still in negotiation with both Marquez and Ducati to see if losing him or gaining the factory team is the most appropriate route forwards.

And those massive decisions by multi-billion-euro companies need a lot more time than would have been available had they been waiting until the final round of the 2024 season in November to know which bike their rider was going to get, as their marketing budgets for the year ahead are set well in advance of that.

It’s just one of the many reasons why Ducati’s on-track shootout idea was so obviously doomed before it even happened.

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