until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What happens if Ducati loses its title-winning MotoGP team?

by Simon Patterson, Valentin Khorounzhiy
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It is increasingly a possibility, if MotoGP paddock speculation is to be believed, that there will be two fewer Ducatis on the 2025 grid after all.

Ducati's long-time satellite partner Pramac - the 2023 outright teams' champion - is understood to be seriously tempted by a dramatic switch to Yamaha. If that move comes off, it will inevitably trigger a whole host of changes up and down the grid for Ducati given Pramac is currently top of its customer pecking order and gets the latest-specification works machinery.

And while some of those consequences might actually work in Ducati's favour by streamlining its 2025 offering to the two remaining satellite teams, it will also undoubtedly trigger fresh issues for Ducati as it looks to sort all of its contracted (and targeted) racers into two fewer places on the grid.

Right now, of course, there’s still nothing even close to official confirmation that Pramac will end its long-standing relationship with Ducati - but there’s no smoke without fire.

Fabio Di Giannantonio and Pecco Bagnaia, MotoGP

And, with Yamaha’s other prime satellite team target VR46 increasingly leaning towards an extension with its current bike supplier, it seems that the Japanese factory’s attention has instead fallen upon luring Pramac away after two decades with Ducati.

Such a change would be looked upon favourably by series promoter Dorna, which wants all the manufacturers to have satellite teams - but would mean a headache for Ducati manager Gigi Dall’Igna when it comes to allocating who goes where and which teams get factory bikes in 2025.

What happens to the works bikes?

Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin, MotoGP

Pramac is at the minute Ducati’s number one satellite team, meaning it doesn't just receive two sets of the latest generation of bike (the same as those used by the factory team), but also gets two riders directly contracted to the factory - one of which (Jorge Martin) proved he can be a title contender last year and currently leads the championship race after three rounds.

Further down the pecking order, both VR46 and Gresini Racing make do with year-old machinery and riders contracted to them not Ducati, even with the star power of 2023 outside title contender Marco Bezzecchi and six-time world champion Marc Marquez as their respective headliners.

VR46 was already vocal last year in pushing for a works-spec bike for Bezzecchi, but Ducati isn't keen on five factory-spec entries, having been burned by its experience with such a set-up in 2022. And Pramac, if it chooses to stay, is entitled to a full works-spec line-up - meaning any bid for VR46 or Gresini in getting an upgraded bike effectively hinges on Pramac agreeing to that, or leaving.

At least one future move is already clear for Pramac, mind you: its headliner Martin won’t be there next year. He’s made it abundantly clear that, although he wishes to remain with Ducati, he’s only prepared to do it in factory colours - and with a likely offer from at least Aprilia and perhaps also other factories, it's very difficult to see him accepting more seasons at Pramac even if it does stay a Ducati partner.

Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Pecco Bagnaia, MotoGP

That actually streamlines things a little for Ducati, though. Should Martin get the nod to step up to factory colours at the expense of Enea Bastianini, that means Ducati doesn’t need to find room for Martin at a satellite team - and likely clears the way for Bastianini to move to the top of Aprilia’s shopping list.

The future might be somewhat more uncertain for the second Pramac racer, Franco Morbidelli - but, as a close friend of Valentino Rossi as well as a founding member of his VR46 Academy, it’s entirely possible that space would be found for him at the VR46 team.

At the same time, it seems probable that, if Pramac vacates its GP25s, one will be dangled as a lure to entice Bezzecchi into remaining with VR46.

Meanwhile, at Gresini, the prospect of factory-spec machinery within the family team that he’s gelled very quickly with might just be enough to encourage Marquez into staying where he is for at least another year (assuming Ducati doesn't make the blockbuster move of bringing him into the works team alongside Pecco Bagnaia).

Marc Marquez, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP

Still very much learning the bike even as he (like all the GP23 racers - but less so) struggles to keep up with the newer model of Ducati's machine, Marquez is clearly enjoying life at Gresini so far - and the boost of a GP25 without changing much else about his surroundings might well just be what he needs to convince him to remain where he is.

All in all, a Ducati satellite line-up with Bezzecchi and Marquez respectively headlining VR46 and Gresini on the latest model of bike supporting Bagnaia-Martin or Bagnaia-Bastianini wouldn’t be a disaster for Ducati - and could well even make up for the shock of losing its long-established link with Pramac.

But what about Aldeguer?

Fermin Aldeguer, Moto2

And yet, when it comes to works Ducati contracts, there's another rider in the conversation who has been regarded as a shoo-in for Pramac: young star Fermin Aldeguer.

Ducati has signed Aldeguer on a 2+2 deal (two years, two more as an option) in MotoGP from 2025 onwards, but didn't announce a team for him - because it didn't yet know, and seemingly still doesn't, what options it will have for placing him at a squad.

Given Pramac's experience developing the likes of Andrea Iannone, Danilo Petrucci, Bagnaia and now potentially Martin for the factory, handing Aldeguer over to Pramac has been widely acknowledged by everyone involved as a no-brainer - if the team stays with Ducati.

But that's now a big 'if'. And if Pramac departs, Ducati will have to pursue a 'Plan B' for the highly-rated 19-year-old Spaniard.

There has been mixed messaging out of the Ducati camp and Aldeguer himself over what spec of bike he will have, too. It may well be advantageous for Aldeguer to learn the ropes on a more battle-proven, familiar bike in the Ducati GP24 rather than an in-development GP25, but it depends on his contract and his and Ducati's preferences.

Pecco Bagnaia, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP

Bagnaia debuted on a year-old Ducati in his first year in 2019 (pictured above) before being upgraded to a works-spec machine, but Martin after him was given a factory-spec Desmosedici straight away as a rookie in 2021.

But then there's the question of team. VR46 was already very keen on Aldeguer last year, and would perhaps be amenable to bringing him in at the expense of Fabio Di Giannantonio (despite a strong start for its 2024 recruit) or a departing Bezzecchi.

Equally, there would be a case for Gresini to replace Alex Marquez, struggling at present, with Aldeguer - but would that really be compatible with Marc Marquez staying at the team? And could Ducati solve that conundrum by, as mentioned above, giving the elder Marquez a spot alongside Bagnaia in the works team - which would presumably mean losing both Martin and Bastianini?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks