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Quartararo's public rider hunt is latest MotoGP silly season twist

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
8 min read

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Fabio Quartararo's public recruitment efforts towards Fabio Di Giannantonio for the new Pramac-Yamaha project headlined the latest turn in MotoGP's wildest silly season in years, as rider market movement continued ahead of the 2024 summer break.

MotoGP will head into a planned hiatus - as opposed to the couple of breaks earlier this season forced by round cancellations - at the conclusion of this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, and many of the riders still unattached are hoping and planning to get clarity on their futures either during that break or already before it.

Di Giannantonio, currently at VR46 and on the whole this season's second-best Ducati GP23 rider behind Marc Marquez, is one of the names preparing to decide their future.

But he is also someone who sounds increasingly swayed by the prospect of a works Yamaha contract, despite the current M1 being considerably less competitive than even a year-old Desmosedici.

"For sure I am in a different situation compared to last year, and I'm super grateful for this," said Di Giannantonio, who was set to exit MotoGP in 2023 before an incredible turnaround in form combined with VR46 endings its Fermin Aldeguer pursuit gave him a lifeline.

"I know what I want for next year: I'm still deciding which is the best solution for me, for my career, but what I want, what we are looking for, is a project where I can be the head of the project, somehow.

"The decision will be made mostly on this."

Di Giannantonio then acknowledged he had plans "A, B and C" but wouldn't initially be drawn on what they are - before Quartararo's subsequent earnestness loosened his tongue.

When asked who he wanted to see at Pramac in 2025, franchise Yamaha rider Quartararo - sat to the left of Di Giannantonio - simply pointed to his right and said: "This guy, on my right."

He continued: "Fabio can be the one that can make a really good job for Yamaha.

"The last 10 months he has been doing a really great job. I think that we need a rider like him to really improve our project."

Di Giannantonio - who laughed cheerily at Quartararo's answer - had previously stressed the importance of a winning bike, which the M1 is extremely unlikely to be even to start 2025, but his thinking appears to have changed.

"To have these words from a colleague, a rival but also a friend, is always so good," he said. "And it's not a secret that we're talking with Yamaha, but also with my team and the Plan C that I cannot say.

"I was talking to Fabio last weekend, honestly, talking about how is the project.

"This weekend I will define more or less the way."

Di Giannantonio's current status within Ducati suggested he should in theory be in a strong position for both factory-spec machinery and perhaps even a factory contract given the depletion of its rider ranks for 2025 - with confirmed exits for Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Marco Bezzecchi.

However, Ducati general manager Gigi Dall'Igna confirmed to Sky Italy recently that it would be scaling down to three factory-spec entries instead of four - so Di Giannantonio's path to one is presumably complicated. The same is likely to be true for a factory contract, given Ducati has already granted one to not just works pair Pecco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez but to rookie Fermin Aldeguer.

What of the second Pramac seat?

Quartararo's pitch for Di Giannantonio's services was accompanied by the admission that "a rookie can be a good idea" for the other ride.

"[Sergio] Garcia, [Alonso] Lopez are names that are really fast in Moto2. They can earn their place in a team like Pramac, that in the end will not really be a satellite team, just an extension of the factory."

Garcia (pictured above) is leading the Moto2 standings as a sophomore intermediate-class rider, while Lopez has long been a subject of reported Yamaha interest.

Other experienced names

If Di Giannantonio is indeed Pramac's and Yamaha's number one target - and if he does agree to join - it will cut off the path for the likes of Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira, who have been mooted as two potential alternatives for a team in need of experience.

"For now, my position is wait," said Trackhouse Aprilia rider Oliveira when asked about his 2025 plans.

"It's not like I can be proactive. I spoke to different teams, now also the teams have to make their own decisions. And for that we need to wait, we need to be patient."

Oliveira is currently riding under an Aprilia contract, as is team-mate Raul Fernandez, but the Trackhouse line-up will switch to Trackhouse contracts in 2025.

And while there seems to be a strong vibe of expectation that Fernandez will stay, as he has himself described it as a priority and has a big admirer in the Aprilia camp in its boss Massimo Rivola, Oliveira's situation remains less straightforward.

He admitted that he would appreciate continuity, but also described the Pramac project as "super interesting" given the factory contract on offer - and is also keeping his ear out for "one or two places available in a Ducati bike".

He said the financial side of any deal was not a priority - but did admit he would like to feel genuinely wanted by any prospective employer.

"Everyone would like that, of course!" said Oliveira. "I think the choice will be also the team that is actually proactive in saying, 'Listen, we really want to work with you'. That makes every rider feel good and actually confident about what he's facing ahead, in the future."

Miller, who would also be a logical fit for one of the vacant Ducati rides (especially if Di Giannantonio is off), came off less convinced about his MotoGP future at the Sachsenring than he had done a week ago at Assen.

Asked by The Race whether he was waiting for the summer break to get it sorted, he said: "Not waiting on my part! No, nothing at the moment. We'll wait and see. Worst comes to worst, we go home."

World Superbikes?

The factory Ducati ride in World Superbikes - arguably the best ride in that paddock and one that could become vacant if 39-year-old Alvaro Bautista decides to retire - is one Miller has been repeatedly linked with, albeit not one he has publicly floated as an option.

Meanwhile, for his fellow KTM outcast Augusto Fernandez, WSBK appears to be the 2025 priority, as he admitted his options were "more in other paddocks" rather than in grand prix racing.

"I'm not in the best position to choose anything but there are some things on the table," he said when asked by The Race about his options.

"I'm focused on this weekend, it's an important one because then we have a three-week break. It's not going to decide [overwrite] all the season that we've made, that is not perfect. But for sure it helps if we have a good result here, it can help."

Mir/Honda just waiting for announcement

Having already acknowledged that he was edging towards a new Honda deal, Joan Mir described a renewal as being "really, really close" in the lead-up to the Sachsenring.

It means the race for MotoGP factory team seats is effectively over for 2025, with Alex Rins all but certain to put pen to paper on a new Yamaha deal and every other works outfit having both riders in place already.

Mir indicated the marquee test rider signing of Aleix Espargaro wasn't necessarily connected to his own decision, but said: "I'm very happy that Aleix joined the team because he's one guy that, well, first of all he has a lot of experience, he made a very good job especially in Aprilia but also in Suzuki with less time. And he's that type of guy that is quite clear with information, if he has to be aggressive inside the box he can do it.

"He's one of the guys you want to have in your team. I'm happy for him, for Honda, and let's see also, we have to wait till the news [on my end] goes out."

With Luca Marini under a 2025 deal already on the other side of the garage and Johann Zarco locked in at LCR, the only Honda question mark will therefore be the other LCR ride backed by Japanese sponsor Idemitsu.

Moto2 frontrunner Ai Ogura has been the presumed pick to take over that ride from Takaaki Nakagami year after year, but it remains unclear whether that will actually ever happen.

In the meantime, Nakagami is uncertain whether he wants to continue - having set a deadline to make a decision with Honda before the summer break but admitting that, come the Sachsenring round, he is still not sure, even if he doesn't really have a concrete 'Plan B'.

Outside options

Toprak Razgatlioglu's dalliance with a MotoGP move in 2025 looks to have ended as abruptly as it began, with his manager Kenan Sofuoglu admitting to Speedweek.com that Razgatlioglu's current BMW Superbike deal for that year would be honoured.

It's thought that the suggestion Razgatlioglu was looking to get out of the contract went down extremely poorly with BMW Motorrad boss Markus Flasch.

At the Sachsenring, a Superbike peer of Razgatlioglu's - GRT Yamaha's Remy Gardner - will be riding in relief of Rins, and he tentatively threw his hat in the ring for a Pramac ride.

The 2021 Moto2 champion Gardner, who got one season with Tech3 KTM before being replaced by Augusto Fernandez, said it "might be a little bit of interest" after being prodded repeatedly - albeit emphasised over and over again that his full focus right now was on World Superbikes and that there is no MotoGP offer on the table.

He is thought to be a rank outsider for a MotoGP shot, although that could of course always be changed with a strong stand-in showing.

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