until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


More 2021 rider market twists ahead of Ducati announcement

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The rumours linking Moto2 championship leader Luca Marini to a MotoGP seat for 2021 have started to firm up ahead of an expected announcement in the coming days about Ducati’s line-up for next year.

Valentino Rossi’s half-brother is believed to be in line for a seat at Esponsorama Racing – formerly Avintia.

The Race’s sources in the paddock have confirmed that Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy has been in contact with Esponsorama boss Ruben Xaus, offering to purchase one of the team’s two seats to allow Marini to step up to the premier class sooner rather than later.

That would leave him in prime position to make a switch to Rossi’s own premier class team when Marini’s current Moto2 squad follows him up to MotoGP in 2022, likely with Yamaha machinery.

On paper, there’s no room for Marini at Esponsorama thanks to a binding deal with current rider Tito Rabat that takes him through to the end of next year.

However, the 2014 Moto2 champion is self-admittedly struggling for motivation this year as he continues to ride around at the back of MotoGP.

Tito Rabat Avintia Ducati MotoGP 2020

So far Rabat’s had a best finish of 11th and scored only eight points from eight races. It’s believed that Ducati has tried to sweeten the deal for him by offering him a 2021 ride in a factory-backed World Superbike team as a fresh challenge.

There’s also a rumour that Esponsorama itself might be offered a sweetener within the MotoGP paddock to keep Rabat under its wing.

There are some whispers that the team might be given a Moto2 seat where it could place him – but that remains much less certain than the WSB option.

Enea Bastianini

Esponsorama looks to have one rider already signed up for 2021, with Ducati confirming that it has signed a contract with Marini’s Moto2 title rival Enea Bastianini.

In a deal expected to be made official later this week, it’s expected that Ducati will place him with Esponsorama.

However, there are also rumours that the Esponsorama slot on the grid might not even exist next year in its current form, with speculation becoming more and more widespread about reigning Moto3 champion squad Leopard attempting to engineer a buy-out in preparation for the MotoGP team contract reshuffling set to happen ahead of the 2022 season.

Jaume Masia Leopold Moto3

Should that happen, it’s likely that Leopard will inherit not only the places on the grid but also Esponsorama’s commitments with Ducati and its riders.

Speaking to The Race at the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna earlier this month, team boss Ruben Xaus refused to rule out the move, admitting only that ‘everything has a price’.

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