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How Ducati could be the key to reviving Honda's MotoGP fortunes with Marquez

Marc Marquez's future has been dominating headlines for weeks as his struggles on the uncompetitive Honda continue. Rumours of a shock Gresini Ducati switch added a new twist to this MotoGP saga, while his apparent unhappiness after a crucial test at Misano did nothing to suggest his 2024 future is with Honda. Ducati looks like it could be the answer for Marquez - but not in the way many think

Luigi Dall'igna

Marc Marquez was the centre of attention last weekend at Misano, where he played a game of misdirection about his immediate future in MotoGP.

His attitude seeks to prolong a soap opera that leaves one thing crystal clear: both the paddock and the fans are more concerned about the path the Spanish rider follows than about what happens on track.

MORE: The grim future facing MotoGP's struggling champions after vital test

The rider himself acknowledged as much on Monday when he spoke to the journalists who stayed at the Misano circuit to cover the collective test that took place there after the grand prix. "I'm going to drag it out as long as I can," he said, referring to the date on which he will announce which team he will ride for next season.

Although the Spaniard even named up to three possibilities, logic suggests that there are two alternatives he is really considering: either to remain tied to Honda, at least until 2024 when his contract expires, or to sign for Gresini and compete, alongside his brother Alex, on a Ducati.

No media outlet that follows the world championship on-site wants to be embarrassed. That is why it is surprising that, over the last few days, there had been headlines that took Marquez's departure to Gresini for granted, and others that guaranteed he would stay at Honda.

Autosport understands that the Catalan has been contemplating both scenarios at all times, with the sole intention of getting back to being competitive and riding at the front, and doing so as soon as possible. At 30 years of age, that should rule out the hypothesis from those who have suggested the possibility of him taking a sabbatical.

In that sense, the temptation to join the Faenza team, which in 2024 will have two Ducati Desmosedici GP23 - with which Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin have accumulated seven wins out of a possible 12 - is perfectly understandable. That route would allow him to avoid the role of semi-tester that he has been playing in recent years at Honda, and from which he is already quite exhausted.

Marquez has been linked to a shock Gresini Ducati switch for 2024

Marquez has been linked to a shock Gresini Ducati switch for 2024

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Gresini is staying quiet because this waiting period also increases its screen share and media attention. For the Italian outfit, the mere possibility of a rider of Marquez's calibre being able to wear their colours is worth denying Jake Dixon and Toni Arbolino the bike, and keeping Fabio Di Giannantonio in the waiting room. In the event that Marquez opts to remain at Honda, it would be enough to confirm 'Digia' or to pay the termination clauses of either Arbolino or Dixon, if they have them.

Ducati insists it is not interested in recruiting Marquez. However, if we analyse the idiosyncrasies of the brand, this is only partially true. While it is true that the arrival of the eight-time world champion would turn the status quo that the Borgo Panigale manufacturer manages so well upside down, Gigi Dall'Igna, the general manager of the Bolognese manufacturer would be delighted to see what the Lleida-born rider would be able to do with one of his Desmosedicis.

In fact, the fight between Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini for the title in 2022 made it quite clear that the engineer doesn't care who wins or with which prototype, as long as it's one of his own.

"I'm going to drag it out as long as I can" Marc Marquez on his future

Having said all that, Gresini is not the only team that would bring together the two most influential people in the championship today, one as an engineer and the other as a rider. Ever since HRC team manager Alberto Puig received approval in Austria from Hikaru Tsukamoto, head of Honda Motor's two-wheeled division, to go and sign engineers from rival teams, his first target has always been Dall'Igna. Whether he succeeds or not is another matter.

Read more on Marc Marquez:

The size of the Japanese company's financial muscle is undoubted, but, considering that Ducati sees him as the cornerstone of its project, his current conditions will not be bad either. With that in mind, the most effective bait to get Dall'Igna's attention is probably to present him with the biggest challenge of his life. This is none other than to entrust him with Honda's rescue, a challenge that, if successful, would make him the equivalent of Adrian Newey in Formula 1.

Puig has been tasked with meeting Marquez's engineering demands to stay at Honda

Puig has been tasked with meeting Marquez's engineering demands to stay at Honda

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Staying at Ducati would surely bring him titles; resurrecting HRC would make him even more transcendent than he has already been. Although, obviously, that process would not be immediate, nor was Ducati's since his arrival in 2014. Despite fighting for the title with Andrea Dovizioso, and precisely against Marquez in 2017 and 2018, glory did not return to Bologna until 2022. However, Honda's power and Marquez's talent would most likely shorten that timeframe.

Either way, and regardless of whether Puig finds a way to convince him to move on, what seems indisputable is that Honda is heading in a different direction than it has been. In recent races, the presence of Tetsuhiro Kuwata - still HRC's director - and Shinichi Kokubu - the chief technical officer - has become less and less important within the structure. In fact, HRC president Koji Watanabe has most likely already decided to do without them, even though the dynamics of the Japanese administrative calendars are out of sync with those in the West. In Eastern companies, staff turnover usually occurs in early April.

It is clear that the favourite option for both Marquez and Puig to try to return to the top is Dall'Igna, and that the best ally to seduce him is tempting his ego. And what do they think of that possibility at Ducati? "Gigi also likes to win and now he is doing that," an authoritative voice in the Italian team told Autosport.

Dall'Igna brought Ducati its first world championship in 15 years in 2022. Could Honda snare him to revive its own fortunes?

Dall'Igna brought Ducati its first world championship in 15 years in 2022. Could Honda snare him to revive its own fortunes?

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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