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New Ducati deal underlines Pramac’s rise from MotoGP minnow past

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Pramac Racing and Ducati Corse have today confirmed that their partnership in MotoGP will extend for at least three more years, in news first reported two weeks ago by The Race.

Coming as no surprise after a strong start to the season for the satellite squad, it means that their working relationship will stretch until at least its 20th anniversary in 2024.

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“We are extremely proud of the work put in and the results we have achieved during these years together with Ducati,” said team principal Paolo Campinoti. “We are delighted to be continuing this beautiful adventure for the next three years. With Ducati, we have created a very special relationship, we have reached incredible objectives, and the best is yet to come!”


And, with Pramac playing in increasingly important role not just in Ducati’s development plans but also in its rider progression of late, Ducati Corse boss Paolo Ciabatti says he’s delighted with the announcement.

“It is truly a great pleasure for us to be announcing the renovation of our partnership with Pramac Racing for the following three MotoGP seasons. Together with Pramac Racing, we have obtained very important achievements.

“Thanks to the close collaboration with them, we have been able to make young riders flourish, who then moved up with success to the official team.

“Furthermore, we are certain to have what it takes to be able to enjoy many other great achievements together with Pramac Racing!”

The move cements Pramac Racing’s place as one of the top teams in the premier class, the culmination of a somewhat meteoric rise from their previous role as something of an also-ran in the past.

A rare example of a racing team wholly owned by its title sponsor, the squad was formed as a subsidiary of generator giant Pramac in 2002, originally running Honda NSR500 machinery with Tetsuya Harada (below) and scoring occasional top-10 finishes in its opening season.

Harada Pramac MotoGP

It made better progress with the switch to four-stroke machinery for 2003, signing Makoto Tamada as the grid’s sole Bridgestone rider and scoring a debut podium at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

However, with a move to Ducati machinery for 2004, things took a turn for the worse for the team. A series of riders left disappointed over the course of the next decade, with names like Alex Hofmann, Toni Elias, Alex Barros, Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargaro all lining up for Pramac and all failing to get the sort of results they were hoping for.

When it took just five podiums from 2004 to 2016 with Ducati machinery, things looked a long way away from good for the team – yet it ultimately emerged as arguably the biggest winner of both MotoGP’s CRT experiment and Ducati’s move to take advantage of the grid and expand its presence.

Struggling through a difficult few seasons not just for Pramac but for the whole manufacturer, Ducati floated its nuclear option, with team boss Gigi Dall’Igna threatening to move the entire effort to CRT status – and as a result managed to extract significant concessions from the other manufacturers that largely lowered costs and equalised the costs.

Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati MotoGP

Also reducing the amount of testing in the process, it was then time for Dall’Igna’s second great idea – using the Pramac team as racing testers. That saw first Danilo Petrucci, then Jack Miller and finally in 2021 both Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin moved onto full-factory equipment, rapidly speeding up development and allowing the team to return to competitiveness.

The result since then has been a remarkable transformation in form. That maiden win is still absent – a much-desired target that is the first goal for 2021 – but Pramac has scored 15 podiums from 2017 to 2020 and another four so far in 2021 alone.

And perhaps even more importantly, it’s also created a path for Ducati talent that has been sometimes absent.

Ducati had a history of cherry-picking top names from other teams (Jorge Lorenzo, for example), but not of growing its own names – but 2021 is the first year that we’re seeing the rewards of its new system and it’s already paying off.

Jack Miller Francesco Bagnaia Jerez MotoGP Ducati

Both factory riders Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia are Pramac recruits, with this year marking the first year that both riders at once have moved up from the satellite squad.

And, with Miller a double race winner and Bagnaia one point off the title lead, it’d be hard to argue that Pramac doesn’t deserve to remain a key part of the Ducati structure.

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