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Martin: Ducati 2023 MotoGP seat ‘war’ was not good for riders

by Valentin Khorounzhiy, Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jorge Martin says the head-to-head duel between himself and Enea Bastianini for the 2023 Ducati MotoGP works ride was “not good” for either rider.

And Martin, who ultimately came off-second best, believes it has showed Ducati has “lost some confidence” in him – as he once thought the ride was “100 percent” his.

A race winner in his rookie season last year, Martin was widely considered the obvious replacement to Jack Miller – who has signed for KTM – for 2023, but then faced a sudden rival for the ride as Bastianini thrived at Gresini.

Bastianini has handily outscored Martin this season and has won three races to Martin’s zero, although Martin has had the mitigating factors of a still-developing Desmosedici GP22 bike (compared to Bastianini’s less up-to-date but more complete GP21) and a niggling injury that required surgery.

Bastianini was finally announced as Francesco Bagnaia’s team-mate in the works outfit for 2023 and 2024 in the lead-up to this weekend’s Misano race – with Martin staying at Pramac.

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP

“For sure a little bit disappointed after the decision,” Martin acknowledged in the official MotoGP Thursday press conference at Misano.

“Not because they chose Enea, because for sure he deserved it. He won three races, his level was unbelievable. And I think for sure both we deserved it, and the decision was difficult for sure.

“But at the end of the day I just did everything Ducati told me, I tried my best. But anyway I signed a really great contract, I’m super happy, and I guess also Ducati will try to recover that investment in making good results [with me at Pramac].”

Martin then suggested that the head-to-head contest with Bastianini was hard to take, but stopped short of criticising Ducati specifically for how the situation unfolded.

“I think it’s not good even for Enea for me, this war they created – [they being] the media, or even… yeah, a lot of people.

“But I mean I just tried to make my good results. I suffered a little bit at the beginning of the season, then from Barcelona I started to be quite consistent, I did a podium there also… I don’t think it’s good for the riders because it’s not easy and you don’t perform to your 100 percent. But it’s what it is. This is sport and we just try our best.”

Bastianini, for his part, said “for Ducati it wasn’t so easy to bring this decision because also Jorge is really fast, he’s an amazing rider” – but seemed to indicate that any pressure on his shoulders was more about making himself a consistent frontrunner rather than making a case for the factory ride.

Martin’s subsequent comments corroborated the long-standing belief that he was Miller’s original planned replacement – and he also revealed that once “it started to be like a battle between Enea and me”, his side took that as a cue to explore alternative options.

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP

“At the beginning of the season I felt a lot of confidence from Ducati in me. We were speaking about the future, to be factory [rider] next year. And then at some point I started to have some crashes, or some difficulties, some injuries, then they started to lose a bit the confidence – and in that point for sure I listened to other factories, and I was thinking even to move.”

In a different answer, he admitted he had felt he was “100 percent” destined for the works team, and that “for sure I listened to everybody, I cannot close the door to anybody” once that was no longer the case.

Asked on what suggested to him that Ducati was losing confidence, he said: “I just felt it. Because we started speaking about 2023, and then I felt like they did a step back.

“That’s why I feel like they missed some confidence in myself.”

Martin was announced at Pramac for just 2023, and made references to staying with Ducati “for another season” and “for another year” during the press conference.

When prodded specifically by The Race on the shape of his new contract, he said: “I don’t know exactly, you can speak with my manager [Albert Valera], he will tell you.”

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP

The Race understands that Martin’s new Ducati deal is for two years, but contains an option on the rider side to end it after 2023.

This is favourable for Martin and is potentially notable given that while most factory contracts currently cover 2023-24, Yamaha has a ride that is bound to go free after 2023 unless Franco Morbidelli steps up his game.

However, Martin did point out that “I think I still have a lot of things to prove here in Ducati, with Pramac also”, and reiterated that his long-term target was to end up wearing Ducati factory red.

He also set a goal of fighting for the title as a satellite rider in 2023, and stressed that he was hoping that Ducati would give him parity in equipment and support – something it has long promised to whoever of Martin or Bastianini would miss out on the works ride – for a championship challenge.

“I will take my chances to make history at Pramac. It’s the only way I could have to make history, trying to win the championship next year, for sure.

“And I just hope that in that case if I have the chance and I’m battling with Pecco or Enea next year, that they [Ducati] give me the same support so I can fight with the same tools.”

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