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Timeline: Marc Marquez’s path to becoming a factory Ducati MotoGP rider

Marc Marquez will officially join the factory Ducati MotoGP team in 2025 after a whirlwind 72 hours brought this rider market saga to a close.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

The eight-time world champion, for the first time in his MotoGP career, is currently not racing within a factory team after electing to quit Honda to join the Gresini squad on a year-old Ducati.

While once a move that would have seen him slide down the order, the current competitive nature of MotoGP means you can fight for the championship even racing on a year-old bike.

Marquez has already scored more points in 2024 in seven rounds than he did in the whole of his final season at Honda last year (136 vs 96) and has scored three grand prix podiums for the first time since 2019.

When he left Honda, he was looking to simply regain his confidence and enjoy racing again after four difficult years on the RC213V between 2020 and 2023. Now he has secured a spot within the best factory and the fastest bike of the moment in MotoGP.

Here is the timeline of Marquez’s return to a factory MotoGP team.

20 February 2020 – Marquez signs four-year Honda deal

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda

Photo by: Repsol Media

On the eve of the 2020 season (or what should have been, had it not been for the COVID pandemic) Marquez penned an unprecedented four-year contract to remain with Honda through to the end of 2024.

While Honda’s motorcycles had been getting harder to ride and most struggled for form, Marquez was able to be utterly dominant on the package.

He took six world titles in seven years between 2013 and 2019, his last seeing him win by over 150 points and finish in the top two in all but one grand prix.

With a deal thought to be worth in the €100m range, it seemed that the Marquez/Honda dynasty was never-ending.

19 July 2020 – Marquez breaks his arm, beginning the downward spiral

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: MotoGP

Forced into a recovery ride after running off while leading in the season-opening Spanish GP, Marquez displayed a frighteningly ominous pace.

Then it all went wrong when he crashed in the latter stages at Turn 3 and badly broke his right arm. It was an injury that required three operations that year and ruled him out for the whole season.

A fourth would follow in 2022 to have his arm rotated back to its original position. But ultimately, it was the beginning of the downward spiral that would end the Honda/Marquez relationship.

Without Marquez, Honda went in a tailspin developing the bike into something its other riders could be competitive on and is still trying to figure out its way back to the front of the field to this day.

4 October 2023 – Marquez quits Honda

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Just after the Japanese Grand Prix, in which Marquez scored his only grand prix podium of a miserable season, he made the (financially costly) decision to end his contract with Honda a year early.

At this point there had been strong rumours of a switch to Gresini Ducati, and a lacklustre Misano test on the first 2024 prototype did nothing to boost his enthusiasm for the RC213V project.

The writing was on the wall from that moment in September, with his decision to quit Honda paving the way for a Gresini move that would be announced on 12 October.

28 November 2023 – Marquez rides the satellite Ducati for the first time

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Dorna

Marquez’s move to Gresini Ducati wasn’t initially received very well by Ducati management when it was first rumoured.

General manager Gigi Dall’Igna said as much just a few hours before Marquez took to the Ricardo Tormo track in Valencia for his first test on the bike. But to have been able to sign for Gresini, clearly Ducati management had softened.

In a memorable (albeit incredibly chilly) day, Marquez rolled out on a Ducati for the first time and captivated the world.

Fourth quickest at the end of the day and just under two tenths off the pace, the eight-time world champion had a smile back on his face, and the anticipation for the 2024 season heightened.

10 March 2024 – Marquez makes his Ducati race debut and grabs attention

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing Team

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez’s first grand prix on the Ducati didn’t feature the first charge to victory since 2021 that many were anticipating coming into the 2024 campaign. But it was a solid weekend that hinted at a high ceiling for the Spaniard aboard the Gresini-run GP23.

Finishing just 1.8s off the win in the sprint in fifth, he was only 3.4s away in the grand prix in fourth, having qualified sixth. Clearly, there was still work to do in adapting to the Ducati, but the only way was up.

24 March 2024 – Portuguese GP flashpoint with his future team-mate

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing and Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team crash

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing and Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team crash

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ducati had been warned throughout the second half of 2023 as to what might happen to its delicate rider ecosystem if it allowed Marc Marquez into its stable.

And there was a collective ‘told you so’ on lap 23 of the 25-lap Portuguese GP. Having scored a podium in the sprint the day before, Marquez was scrapping for the top five with world champion Francesco Bagnaia in the latter stages of the GP.

He went for a lunge up the inside of Turn 5, ran wide and allowed Bagnaia to come up the inside again. The pair met in the middle and both crashed out.

Bagnaia felt it was a racing incident, Marquez said the factory Ducati rider was to blame. On reflection, one could look at this exchange as something of the first powerplay by Marquez.

28 April 2024 – The old Marquez comes out to play

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez qualified on pole for the 93rd time in his career at Jerez on the Saturday and was on course for a sprint win before crashing out of the lead in a bizarre contest.

In the grand prix, the first signs that Marquez had finally gelled with the Ducati were shown when he went head to head with Bagnaia for the win.

Bagnaia, in theory, has the better bike given his is the latest factory weapon. But that didn’t stop Marquez giving it a good go, the pair making contact at Turn 10 late on as they diced for the lead.

Bagnaia was to come out the victor, but a point had been proven by Marquez – and Ducati management were starting to take note.

26 May 2024 – Marquez makes his factory case more convincing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

At the French GP prior to that Catalan round, Marquez went from 13th on the grid in the sprint and the grand prix to finish second in both.

At Barcelona, he qualified down in 14th and managed to come through to second in the sprint. His march through the field was tougher in the grand prix, but that didn’t stop him getting to third.

For the first time since 2019, he scored three consecutive grand prix podiums. Ducati had already earmarked Mugello the following week as the place it wanted to make its final decision on who would partner Bagnaia in 2025.

Jorge Martin’s form in 2024, as well as that of 2023 when he was championship runner-up, was hard to look past. But so was Marquez’s after just six rounds on the Ducati.

30 May 2024 – Martin gets the nod, but Marquez throws a spanner in the works

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing.

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, it appeared that Ducati had made its decision and Jorge Martin would be going to the factory team.

The conditions were put in front of both riders the day before, Autosport understands, with Martin to the factory team and Marquez to Pramac on works machinery – with a clause that stated this would be switched if the latter won the title.

But Marquez wasn’t happy. He told the media that Pramac “is not an option”.

Marquez wanted to either stay at Gresini on a factory bike – something that was unlikely if Pramac continued with Ducati for 2025, owing to a factory exclusivity clause in that deal – or move to the works team, which looked certain to be Martin’s.

3 June 2024 – The tables turn, Marquez gets his wish

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The thought of losing Marquez to a rival manufacturer was too great for Ducati, who informed Martin on Sunday afternoon of 2 June that he would not be getting the factory team seat.

Martin went straight to Aprilia and penned a deal on the Monday to ride for the Italian manufacturer in 2025.

An official announcement from Ducati never arrived on Monday, but the Martin news paved the way for the inevitable.

5 June 2024 – Ducati makes it official

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The MotoGP world remained glued to their inboxes as Tuesday came and went without any official word from Ducati.

On Wednesday morning, the pieces all officially fell into place, with Ducati announcing Marquez had signed a two-year deal to race for its factory team through to the end of 2026.

"I am very happy to be able to wear the red colours of the factory Ducati team in MotoGP next season," Marquez said. "Basically, from the first contact with the Desmosedici GP, I enjoyed riding it and adapted well straight away.

"From that moment on, I knew that my goal was to continue this path, to continue to grow, and to move to the team where Francesco Bagnaia has been the world champion for two years in a row. I am happy to be able to take this big step in 2025 and grateful for the trust Ducati has placed in me.

"Finally, I want to thank Nadia [Padovani], Carlo [Merlini], Michele [Masini], and the entire Gresini Racing family for opening the door of their team to me at a delicate time in my career. Now, we will continue to have fun and give it our all in what remains of the current season, which is my priority right now."

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