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Opinion

Why MotoGP's rising star would shine brighter at VR46 than at Pramac

OPINION: The emergence of Marco Bezzecchi in his second year in MotoGP hints that a move to Pramac in 2024 would be a natural step. However, a closer look suggests that the VR46 rider would offer a better version of himself by staying in his current environment

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing, Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing podium

With racing in short supply during MotoGP's summer break, the focus of attention in the world championship is monopolised by the buzz of possible market movements. Aside from the case of Marc Marquez, who is devoting this summer to unravelling the scenario of his hypothetical departure from Honda, Marco Bezzecchi is another rider on the grid who is attracting a lot of attention.

The 24-year-old VR46 Ducati rider has been a sensation this season, winning twice on Sunday (Argentina and Le Mans) and once on Saturday (Assen), as well as finishing on the podium in half of the eight rounds so far. When the championship gets underway again at Silverstone on the first weekend of August, Bezzecchi will be third in the standings, just one point behind Pramac's Jorge Martin in second and 36 points behind leader Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati. It will probably be known by then whether he will remain with his current team next season or wear the Pramac suit, which are the two options currently available to him.

Until this year, to wear the suit of Paolo Campinoti's team would be interpreted as a step forward; an evolution at all levels, especially considering that it is the satellite team and receives the most resources from the Ducati factory. In fact, the Borgo Panigale constructor has insisted in recent times on defining its client as a second factory team, given the resources injected into it. A high percentage of the technicians working in the garage occupied by Martin and Johann Zarco, starting with their respective chief mechanics Daniele Romagnoli and Massimo Branchini, are on Ducati's payroll.

However, VR46's ambition to grow and other factors will surely cause the privileged status that Pramac held to lose weight or, at least, to become a little more balanced with Valentino Rossi's structure. This change in its status is one of the arguments used by Uccio Salucci, the team manager, to justify his desire to retain Bezzecchi.

"We want to progress, and Pramac is still a direct rival," Rossi's close friend told Autosport. "If Marco wants to stay, our priority is for him to stay."

Aside from the hair and the looks, Bezzecchi has other similarities that bring him closer to Rossi. One of the most obvious is his approach to racing and the importance he places on the environment around him.

Bezzecchi is entirely comfortable in his surroundings at the VR46 team

Bezzecchi is entirely comfortable in his surroundings at the VR46 team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

VR46's Academy and its MotoGP squad have the same matrix and are communicating vessels, so most of the people Bezzecchi trains with and has fun with in his day-to-day life are those he meets at the track. In that sense, Matteo Flamigni, Rossi's former technician who now captains his side of the garage, also plays a key role in understanding Bezzecchi's leap in quality.

In the event of signing for Pramac, Bezzecchi would land in a new ecosystem, working alongside different people he has had no prior contact with, a circumstance that would surely play against his tranquillity. This logical approach is not lost on Ducati, which is aware of the importance of the people around Bezzecchi when it comes to bringing out the best in him.

Insight: How VR46 is handling its MotoGP conflict of interest with Bezzecchi

"We believe that he is not yet ready to embark on a solo adventure, without the people around him," said the Borgo Panigale offices, where they are currently trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together.

The possibility of VR46 switching to Yamaha cannot be ruled out entirely given the strong link between Rossi and Yamaha. That could lead Ducati to offer Bezzecchi a factory rider contract to ensure he stays under its umbrella

If the human aspect can be decisive in determining Bezzecchi's short-term future, then so can the technical aspect. Initially, Ducati had projected that Bezzecchi would spend 2024 riding a year-old bike, as is currently the case. That would mean a saving of around 800,000 euros for VR46 compared to the investment involved in ordering a GP24.

Pramac, which so far has had two of the most evolved prototypes, would also not see with bad eyes to move to having a single GP24 for Martin while Zarco, or whoever takes his place next season, would compete with a GP23. From VR46 they see that scenario as ideal, especially given the level of bike mastery acquired recently.

"As a team we are ready to ride a GP24, because we have more experience," adds Salucci. "Last year, with Luca - Marini rode the GP23 - we suffered a bit more, but now we are ready."

Ducati is willing to make an extra effort to give the rider the 'black leg' bike. But with conditions.

Giving Bezzecchi a current spec bike may convince VR46 to avoid defecting to a rival manufacturer

Giving Bezzecchi a current spec bike may convince VR46 to avoid defecting to a rival manufacturer

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

To understand this, you first have to look at the agreement between VR46 and Ducati that expires at the end of 2024. Evidently, one of the priorities of the Bolognese company is to keep Bezzecchi on one of its bikes, regardless of the fact that VR46 could consider signing for another supplier with a view to 2025.

Although such a move would be surprising given the lack of competitiveness recently demonstrated by the M1s, the possibility cannot be ruled out entirely given the strong link between Rossi and Yamaha. That could lead Ducati to offer Bezzecchi a factory rider contract to ensure he stays under its umbrella, regardless of which bikes VR46 will use.

Such a scenario makes sense given that Ducati only has four riders on its roster (Bagnaia and Bastianini, Martin and Zarco) after Jack Miller left for KTM, so the 'vacancy' left by the Australian would be filled by Bezzecchi.

Is Bezzecchi best-served by staying put?

Is Bezzecchi best-served by staying put?

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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