The VR46 Ducati team has unsurprisingly announced that current racer Luca Marini will not ride for the team in 2024, paving the way for team boss Valentino Rossi’s brother to dramatically join the Repsol Honda squad as Marc Marquez’s replacement.
The news comes only days before Marini will make his Honda debut at this week’s upcoming post-season test at Valencia.
The worst-kept secret in the MotoGP paddock for some weeks, the news was all but confirmed as being imminent on Thursday at the pre-race press conference for this weekend’s season-ending Valencian Grand Prix.
"I think that news will come soon,” Marini said at the time. “So, there is not many things I can say at the moment. We will see in the next few days.”
But when quizzed more generally about whether he felt ready for a factory ride, he was more open: "I am feeling great, I am improving every year a lot.
"And it has always been my dream to be in a factory team, develop a bike and bring the manufacturer to victory. So... in my opinion it's the right moment.
"There was this opportunity because after the Marc decision [to leave Honda for Gresini Ducati] there was a big shock for everybody.
"But I think in general also maybe in the future, if not next year, in the future this is something that was going to happen. So... now there is a good opportunity for me and I will try to do my best and this is the maximum that I can say for now."
And while he’s not yet been confirmed by Repsol Honda as Marquez’s successor, that news is likely to follow soon from the Japanese manufacturer - with the hurdle of Marini's existing 2024 VR46 contract now officially overcome.
The news also likely opens the door at the Italian satellite Ducati team for Fabio Di Giannantonio, with the Qatar Grand Prix race winner dramatically firing himself into prime spot to replace Marini after his unexpected victory in Lusail one week ago.