Motorcycle Racing

The MotoGP civil war threat Ducati must now delicately manage

Marquez on a Ducati has so far lived up the pre-season anticipation, rocking a boat that had been fairly stable

The clamour and the clatter of incensed keys could be heard across the world last Sunday at 2:39pm local time in Portugal, as social media was whipped into a frenzy over the clash between Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia. It was an incident that Ducati fielded many warnings about last year, when the idea of eight-time world champion Marc Marquez signing for Gresini to race a year-old Desmosedici first hit the headlines.

Race report: Martin wins as Bagnaia and Marquez collide

Just hours before Marquez made his first appearance on the GP23 at the post-season Valencia test last November, Ducati general manager Gigi Dall’Igna told the wind-chilled media between the team’s race trucks that “Ducati’s position was surely that we did not want Marquez”. His comment has its roots in that fact that Ducati over the last four years – ever since Andrea Dovizioso and Dall’Igna’s egos irreparably clashed, and the former wasn’t re-signed beyond 2020 – has crafted a finely balanced ecosystem.

That has been spearheaded by Bagnaia, now a double world champion for the marque, with the second factory seat occupied by an Enea Bastianini – who impressed on a Gresini Ducati in 2022. That earned him the place over Jorge Martin, winner of the Portuguese GP and 2023 championship runner-up, who holds factory machinery at Pramac.

Beyond these two teams, Ducati has the likes of three-time grand prix winner Marco Bezzecchi contracted to VR46, while Fabio Di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez have also shown race-winning potential as riders in the Italian marque’s stable but not directly contracted to it.

Marc Marquez is also contracted to Gresini rather than Ducati. But the threat he posed to this ecosystem was something long-discussed as the Italian marque – who eventually warmed a little to the idea of him riding one of its bikes as last year wore on – proved ultimately powerless to stop the Nadia Padovani-run team from securing his signature.

Unsurprisingly, as soon as Marquez jumped on the GP23, Ducati management’s tune has been one of intrigue and praise, as well as considerations as a potential factory team candidate for 2025.

Marquez on a Ducati has so far lived up the pre-season anticipation, rocking a boat that had been fairly stable

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Marc has already shown all his talent and class through an innate ability to adapt: he is already a fearsome contestant on a bike…

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