Our 2019 photo of the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello with Turn 1 San Donato. The decision on the driver selection has already been made a few days before the official announcement for the 2024 GP weekend, as an Italian friend told us. However, the solution to the alleged problem has been obvious for some time.

Ducati driver selection resolved – plan for 2025 is in place

However, after Ducati newcomer Marc Marquez publicly announced that he would not insist on a factory team, but was only aiming for factory material for the 2025 season, the solution to the problem with the placement of Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and the exceptional Catalan talent was already obvious. In order not to lose the current world championship leader Martin, he will take over Enea Bastianini’s place and Marquez will receive a current factory machine from Pramac for the coming season. The 6-time world champion can also remain loyal to his long-time helmet sponsor Red Bull, as desired, which would have been an obstacle for the Ducati Lenovo factory team due to its liaison with Monster Energy. Bastianini can continue to count on factory material and is set to compete as Marc’s teammate in place of the disappointing Franco Morbidelli. The only thing that is still open at the moment is whether he will become rookie Fermin Aldeguer’s teammate at Gresini Ducati instead of Alex Marquez, thus receiving a pension after all. But the most important dice have long since been cast and Ducati will not lose any of its three most important riders, apart from Bagnaia.

Jorge Martin (left) and Johann Zarco at the driver presentation for the 2021 season. The fast Frenchman occupied the position corresponding to his starting number at the end of the year and Martin finished ninth in the World Championship twice in a row. The following year, the situation changed when Zarco again took fifth place, while the Spaniard became vice world champion.

Why it took so long was obvious

It is difficult to understand why Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali spoke of a difficult decision regarding the driver line-up shortly after the GP of Catalonia. As the sparrows are already chirping from the rooftops of northern Italy, the choice had long since been made by this point and the person in charge from Borgo Panigale near Bologna was simply pulling the wool over the public’s eyes on May 28, 2024. Much more difficult than the driver question were the solutions with the various sponsors and, of course, the drivers’ salaries. But it had long been clear that Marc Marquez did not want to embark on a new adventure with KTM, Aprilia or even his long-time employer Repsol Honda. Losing Vice World Champion Jorge Martin was understandably not an option for Ducati and transferring Bastianini to the best customer team of the previous year on current material should not be seen as a demotion. Ultimately, the Italian, a four-time Grand Prix winner in the 2022 season at Gresini Ducati, had been discussing for some time whether, without the pressure of being a factory rider, he might be able to repeat his successes from two years ago, when he finished third in the final standings.

Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia in the gravel bed of turn 5 of the Circuito de Cataluña – after his third crash in a row in a sprint race. The susceptibility to errors of the Italian from Turin is now almost proverbial. That is why Ducati cannot afford to do without the services of world championship leader Martin or exceptional talent Marc Marquez for 2025.

There is only one Marc Marquez

We recently pointed out that the premature adulation of rookie Pedro Acosta is pointless and, above all, completely wrong. With his beginner’s mistakes at the French GP in Le Mans and then at the Grand Prix of Catalonia in turn 10, the now 20-year-old unfortunately clearly proved how right we were. The pressure exerted by the media and the public on the undoubtedly highly gifted young KTM talent is definitely too great, which is why he often goes beyond his limits and crashes are the logical consequence. Especially in his home country, it was a serious setback for the young man from Murcia to be slowed down and overtaken in the final lap of the sprint race by exceptional talent and role model Marc Marquez on his Ducati from last year. The 6-time world champion achieved the almost impossible in the last two races, when he drove from 13th place (in Le Mans) and 14th place (in Catalonia) to make it onto the podium four times in a row. To clarify the pointless comparison of Pedro with Marc and some of the rookies of the past in the premier class, we have put together a statistic that speaks for itself. This is a ranking according to the criterion in which race the first victory was achieved.

  1. Max Biaggi 1998: Race 1 in Suzuka (JAP)
  2. Jarno Saarinen 1973: Race 1 in Le Castellet (FRA) & Race 2 (Salzbrugring/AUT)
  3. MM93 2013: Race 2 in Austin (USA)
  4. Brad Binder 2020: Race 3 in Brno (CZE)
  5. Jorge Lorenzo 2008: Race 3 in Estoril (POR)
  6. Kenny Roberts sen. 1978: Race 3 – Salzburgring (AUT)
  7. Dani Pedrosa 2006: Race 4 in Shanghai (CHN)
  8. Freddie Spencer 1982: Race 7 in Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
  9. Pat Hennen 1976: Race 8 in Imatra (FIN)
  10. VR46 2000: Race 9 – Silverstone (GB)
  11. Jorge Martin 2021: Race 10 in Spielberg (AUT)
  12. Luca Cadalora 1993: Race 10 – Donington (GB)
  13. Wayne Rayney 1988 Race 12 – Donington (GB)
  14. John Kocinski 1991: Race 15 in Shah Alam (MAL)
    ? Pedro Acosta 2024 (after GP Catalunya with 12 Races / 6 Grand Prix)

The big losers of the last two rounds

Many observers found Pit Beirer’s answer to the driver question and the possible signing of Marc Marquez and Jorge Martin for 2025 to be defiant in response to the Dorna interviewer’s request. The former motocross vice world champion up to 250 cc, who does not come from Grand Prix racing, refused to hear anything about a possible signing of the current world championship leader, as well as the 6-time world champion in MotoGP. The KTM motorsport boss preferred to expressly emphasize that his company is absolutely satisfied with the current 4 riders and prefers to trust in their abilities. He seemed to have forgotten that his boss Pierer, of all people, had made clear his interest in Marquez public last year and that Jorge Martin had actually been one of the Oranges’ home-grown players until 2020 before losing him due to a fatal misjudgment. The Spaniard had only “fled” to Ducati because Beirer wanted to persuade him to do another Moto2 season with Ajo-KTM and immediately became one of the best rookies of the last decades in the premier class.

Ajo-KTM Moto2 rider Jorge Martin in the second race of Aragon in the first year of the Corona pandemic in 2020. Due to a drastic misjudgment of reality, Pit Beirer trusted that he would be able to keep the Spaniard and put him off until the 2022 season for a MotoGP entry at KTM. Already in 2021, in his rookie season at the season opener for Pramac Ducati, the Oranges realized what a jewel they had lost.

Hardly any World Cup chances for KTM – even in their eighth MotoGP year

Instead of officially announcing in 2016 before entering MotoGP that it would be chasing the title from the third season onwards, KTM seems to be giving up the title hunt voluntarily. Signing up Aussie Jack Miller as a teammate for Red Bull KTM factory rider Brad Binder for the 2023 season was not only a very daring decision, but also an absolutely foolish one for many observers and experts. Bringing in another member of the same breed alongside the South African, who is already notorious for crashing, is always likely to end disastrously. Initially even in second place in the World Championship, Binder slipped to eighth place in Catalonia. After commenting on his fall in the Tissot Sprint Race in Barcelona by saying that he would prefer a fall while in the lead to finishing in fifteenth place, this is no surprise. Miller is already hopelessly behind in 15th place and rookie hope Acosta has recently made some beginner mistakes, which means he is now 72 points behind world championship leader and ex-KTM man Jorge Martin. His team colleague Augusto Fernandez only managed to score points four times in the first six rounds and the top ten was always beyond his reach. Despite competitive material, this was unfortunately a real disaster for KTM, as has happened far too often in the past. If MotoGP were like top-level football, Pit Beirer would probably have been taking knitting courses or trying to get involved in motocross a long time ago.

Crash pilot and crowd favorite Jack Miller – here still in the service of Pramac Ducati, before he was promoted to the Ducati Lenovo factory team for the 2020 season. Instead of being relegated to the Italians’ customer team for 2023, the Australian surprisingly signed with KTM. You didn’t have to be an expert to predict his failure in the orange colors in the World Championship fight, because the Australian simply lacks the consistency necessary for a title, as he simply ends his races in the gravel trap far too often.

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