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Analysis

The factors Ducati had to consider as it looks set to keep Marquez and lose Martin

Editor's note: Since this feature was published on the morning of Monday 3 June 2024, Autosport broke the news that Ducati looks set to promote Marc Marquez to its factory MotoGP team for 2025 as Jorge Martin will leave the manufacturer altogether. Autosport has decided to keep the copy in its original form, and below you can see the the difficult situation Ducati had to navigate to ensure it kept Marquez

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

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In recent weeks, Ducati developed an ideal scenario for the next two years in MotoGP. In the eyes of its executives, this would play well with eight-time world champion Marc Marquez and current standings leader Jorge Martin, whose renewals became a priority once Francesco Bagnaia was secured in March.

The idea was to promote Martin to the factory team, as Bagnaia's team-mate, and place Marquez at Pramac with factory rider treatment to all intents and purposes. However, the ideologists of that strategy did not count on the reaction of Marquez, who was vehement in his refusal to join Paolo Campinoti's team.

“Pramac is not an option for me,” he said last Thursday on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix. “It is not because I am a person with very clear ideas, but because I will not leave a satellite team to join another.”

His statement, as expected, did not sit well with Campinoti's team: “We have survived more than 20 years without Marc, and we will be able to continue without him,” the businessman replied.

Autosport understands that Ducati sounded out both riders on the Wednesday night before Mugello, hours before Gazzetta dello Sport broke the news on Thursday morning that Martin had been chosen to go to the factory squad. Regardless of where the leak came from, what is clear is that Marquez's forcefulness stirred up an atmosphere that was already sufficiently heated.

At this point, it is necessary to find a solution to solve an equation that seriously jeopardises the objective that the Bologna offices had set out to achieve: to prevent #93 or #89 from reinforcing the competition.

Claudio Domenicali, Ducati's CEO, seems to have now realised the multiplying power of Marquez at the media level and the scope two such powerful brand images could have. “It never ceases to amaze us”, agree several voices coming out of the official workshop of the team that scored a double at Mugello with Bagnaia last weekend.

Marquez has already shown he can battle with the factory Ducati riders on a year-old bike in 2024

Marquez has already shown he can battle with the factory Ducati riders on a year-old bike in 2024

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A few weeks ago general manager Gigi Dall'Igna, the genius who created the most dominant prototype in the history of the championship, was one of the main supporters of Marquez's choice but now the tables have turned. Now Domenicali is the great promoter of his arrival, because of the possibilities it offers at a marketing level.

That is without considering the speed that the former Honda rider has recovered, which means an assault on the title this year is not out of the question despite competing with a prototype from 2023. After the seventh stop of the calendar, he sits third in the overall standings, 35 points behind championship leader Martin on the latest factory prototype.

Marquez is not only upset because he was not the first one to be chosen to join the factory structure. Beyond that, he believes that the track record that precedes him should allow him to be master of his future and be able to choose where to race. Since Thursday, the multi-champion has pulled out all the stops to increase the pressure on those who must make the final decision, with that smile of his and a very flattering speech.

Martin, for his part, doubts the word received from the bosses of the Bolognese firm, and fears the weight behind Marquez's words could force Ducati to back down.

If Pramac stays as it is, it is very difficult to think that Marquez would accept to race there after all that has been said in Italy.

“I am very happy to compete with the titans of Ducati, and with all those who have a 2024 bike,” recalled the Gresini rider on Sunday, after finishing fourth. More or less subtly, he made it clear that he is already able to minimise the technical differential between the 2023 Desmosedici he uses and the one used by Bagnaia, Martin and Bastianini, something that only the technicians who have access to the data can appreciate.

“I have very clear ideas in my head and I'm calm. I have three plans, and I will be satisfied with the one I choose,” he replied when pressed about his future.

Ducati has got itself into a mess that many within the company do not know how to get out of. A mess that is the consequence of having opened the doors to an element as voracious as Marquez, who in three months has turned upside down an ecosystem that was absolutely under control.

Now, the problem for the Italian constructor is that there are players with a very high capacity to influence everything that might happen. One of the most decisive keys is in the hands of Pramac, who has in its hands the possibility of pressing the pause button.

Marquez has said no to Pramac; it insists it will have factory Ducatis in 2025

Marquez has said no to Pramac; it insists it will have factory Ducatis in 2025

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Gino Borsoi, team manager of Campinoti's team, assured last Saturday that his structure would return with two Desmosedicis of the latest specification in 2025 and 2026. Shortly afterwards, Mauro Grassilli, Ducati's sporting director, revealed that Pramac had not yet exercised its contractual right to renew. In fact, Autosport understands that Pramac has until the end of July to decide whether it wants to continue as Ducati's exclusive factory-backed satellite team in 2025

As well as being irritated because he feels the deal he is being offered does not do justice to the effort he has put in over the last few years, Campinoti has an enticing offer on the table from Yamaha, who is burning with the desire to have four M1s back on the grid.

If Pramac stays as it is, it is very difficult to think that Marquez would accept to race there after all that has been said in Italy. In case of a switch to Yamaha, that would not free the way for Marquez, since the preferential status still enjoyed by Pramac would pass to VR46.

In that case, it is even less realistic to think that Rossi would agree to give a GP25 to his arch-nemesis, so that he could take it to Gresini. The hypothesis of a fifth official Desmosedici is not valued at the moment in the offices of Borgo Panigale because of the policy of circulation of resources. But given the level of complexity that this whole mess has reached, it can not be ruled out that there will be a change of criteria.

Could the Ducati situation really force Marquez to a rival?

Could the Ducati situation really force Marquez to a rival?

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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