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VR46 intends to stick with Ducati but pushes for a MotoGP factory bike

VR46 team boss Uccio Salucci says its priority is to remain tied to Ducati in MotoGP but it is still pushing for a factory-specification Desmosedici from 2025.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi’s VR46 squad made its MotoGP premier class debut in 2022 after agreeing a deal with Ducati for one factory-specification bike that went to Luca Marini, and a year-old bike that went to Marco Bezzecchi.

Autosport understands that VR46 has the option to renew with Ducati for 2025 and 2026, with the option set to expire at the end of May, but the team would have to settle for two-year-old Desmosedici bikes for its riders.

Despite having maintained contacts with KTM, the clearest alternative has always been Yamaha, given Rossi’s historical connection to the Japanese manufacturer.

But this possibility, which was never completely ruled out, has been losing strength in recent weeks, to the point that VR46 and Ducati look set to reaffirm their alliance, with an extension that could even be announced this weekend at the American MotoGP round in Austin.

“Yamaha is my second home. But, to begin with, what it should offer us is a more competitive motorcycle. The Ducati is a great motorcycle and its performance is very high. We owe it to our partners. Change is not easy,” Salucci said, speaking to Autosport.

Uccio Salucci, VR46 Racing Team

Uccio Salucci, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Media VR46

If VR46 sticks with Ducati, the pressure would shift to Yamaha, as it has been trying to establish a satellite team since its partnership ended with the RNF squad at the end of 2022.

But with Yamaha’s top-speed weakness still obvious, it is believed its best way to secure a second squad alongside the factory team was to provide a financial package to support a satellite squad.

However, so far this hasn’t been sufficiently attractive to a team like VR46 which picked up three MotoGP wins in 2023, all with Bezzecchi in Argentina, France and India, plus multiple podiums across both its riders.

VR46 has also been able to secure greater sponsorship backing, having taken on Indonesian state-owned energy company Pertamina as title sponsor from this season.

Rossi’s squad has an ideal scenario in mind: stick with Ducati but regain a factory-spec bike for 2025. But the current hurdle to that is Ducati’s plan to provide only four of those bikes (two to the factory team and two to the Pramac squad), and that set-up would require Pramac boss Paolo Campinoti to voluntarily give up one of its factory bikes for 2025.

While this scenario seems unlikely, Salucci isn’t giving up: “Pramac is Ducati's reference satellite team. VR46 does not seek that status. What we want is to grow and have an official motorcycle next year.”

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