Marquez joins Ducati: Consequences of MotoGP 2025’s biggest move


Marc Marquez, Jorge Martin, Ducati and Aprilia abruptly turned the 2025 MotoGP rider market inside out across 24 hours at Mugello, as Ducati seemingly informed Martin that Marquez was getting the nod for the second works seat after all and Martin responded by immediately signing for Aprilia.

Those pieces are now firmly in place, with Ducati announcing on Wednesday that it has swooped and secured Marquez – the main attraction in the rider market for a second year in a row – on a two-year deal.

That’s a shift with massive repercussions for next year, most of the rest of the grid, and this year’s title fight too.

Here are our thoughts on some of the key questions raised, and you can hear more of them in a special episode of The Race MotoGP Podcast.



WHY DID DUCATI CHANGE ITS MIND?

During the Mugello race weekend the one piece of Ducati’s 2025 puzzle that seemed settled was that Martin would move up to the factory team next year alongside Pecco Bagnaia.

That abruptly changed.

The full reasons for that aren’t yet clear. That Marquez in factory colours would be a massive storyline and commercial opportunity for Ducati wasn’t new information. Neither was how much he’s beating all the other riders on 2023-spec Ducatis by.

What did change was Marquez making clear he wasn’t willing to move to Pramac to get a 2025-spec bike. But, simultaneously, that he absolutely did want a 2025-spec bike.

So if Ducati wasn’t going to give him a 2025 bike at Gresini and he wasn’t going to Pramac, Ducati only had one other choice and it couldn’t afford not to make it, regardless of the other consequences. If Marquez wasn’t willing to accept Ducati’s plan A, that plan had to go in the bin because he was too valuable to risk upsetting.

Simon Patterson: “The only thing I can think of is that they’ve sat down and had a good look at what he’s doing on that year-old bike.

“This isn’t the bike Bagnaia won the 2023 championship on, it’s a much, much earlier, much more basic version of it. And he’s still in title contention against guys on a package that Ducati knows – better than anyone else – is much better.

“They’ve seen the 0.2-0.3s per lap he’s missing is all coming from the bike package and just decided they can’t afford not to give him what he wants. He drew a pretty hard line in the sand about not going to Pramac.”

Valentin Khorounzhiy: “Marc Marquez bet on himself, that he still has the pull that if he manoeuvred himself into a position where Ducati had to choose between him and anybody else – and in this case the ‘anybody else’ is the championship leader and probably the best rider in MotoGP over the last 12 months and somebody five years younger than Marquez – Ducati would still choose him.

“This little bit of holdout from Marquez, his unwillingness to just make things easy by going to Pramac, looks to have created a situation where all the other pieces are off the board and Marquez is one of the two top dogs at Ducati. Marc won. This is Marc flexing on the rest of the MotoGP grid.

“Maybe Ducati higher-ups like Claudio Domenicali got involved. They know they can’t really go wrong with either Marquez or Martin. Pure performance-wise, you’re basically fine whichever way you go there.

“So somebody higher up in Ducati will have been seduced by Marquez in red and the marketing opportunities. You only get one shot at that. Martin is doing great things but a Jorge Martin title doesn’t weigh the same as a Marc Marquez title in terms of engagement. We all know that. Marquez has made himself the biggest MotoGP story of the year. Again.”

SP: “I think everyone is still fearful of what Marquez on a factory KTM or factory Aprilia could do. Ducati is winning titles without Marquez, but would it be winning titles if Marquez was riding a factory bike somewhere else? That would have been part of the worry.”

VK: “We’ve seen what Pedro Acosta can do even on a satellite KTM as a first year. I suspect the prospect of Marquez suiting up on a KTM bike might have scared someone at Ducati.”

HOW WILL MARQUEZ AND BAGNAIA GET ON?

Bagnaia had indicated he wanted Ducati to keep Bastianini as his team-mate – just as he’d previously wanted Jack Miller to stay on when Ducati brought Bastianini in for 2023. It’s understood Martin was his second choice for 2025.

Instead, Marquez is turning up. And there’s also the backdrop of Bagnaia being a protege of Valentino Rossi, whose relationship and rivalry with Marquez was infamously explosive. That adds another dimension to what will already be a tense fight for supremacy between MotoGP’s 2010s title-winning machine and his 2020s successor in the same garage.

SP: “This is like putting Marquez back on a 2019 Repsol Honda. He’s going to dominate next year. But I would love Bagnaia to win the title next year because beating Marquez on the other side of the garage would elevate Bagnaia to modern-great status. It’s not going to be easy.”

VK: “Bagnaia’s keenly aware of perceptions of him and a guy who really wants to craft himself a legacy. I think he hoped that Ducati allowing Marquez into the camp would allow a straight fight and that if he beat him that third title would be more valuable. But there’s been the asterisk of the bike spec. So 2025’s going to be the chance for Bagnaia to assert himself instead.”

SP: “Pecco’s a level-headed character, he’s going to look at this rationally as the best thing for Ducati to do.”



VK: “I don’t think he’ll like it, for the first few days. He’s on record as saying keeping Bastianini as his team-mate was his preferred option, and we understand Martin was his preference if not. It’s the second time Ducati didn’t do what he wanted over his team-mate.

“He and Marquez have been very cordial in public. But you can see the cracks between the two camps and I think it will be awkward at best and the first contact on track could make it horrifically toxic. I think it will be a headache. Ducati kind of doesn’t want any of this but Marquez is so good, Ducati can’t not do it.”

SP: “Bagnaia is a smart enough guy to know that now is a sensible time to be quiet about it. There might be a time to not be quiet if they start knocking each other off. The best approach is to welcome Marc into the garage with a smile and have a knife behind your back if you need it.”

IS PRAMAC-YAMAHA NOW INEVITABLE?

Ducati’s keenness to get Marquez to Pramac was an effort to hold onto its long-time top satellite team amid a determined Yamaha bid to entice it away.

But without the prospect of Marquez, Pramac now looks far more likely to accept the lucrative Yamaha offer, meaning Ducati will drop down from eight to six bikes on the grid, one of Gresini or VR46 will get Pramac’s top-spec bikes next year, and Yamaha doubles its presence after two years represented only by its works team.

SP: “Pramac are now guaranteed to get their factory bikes so in theory you pick the best other Ducati riders and offer them to Pramac, maybe Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio, maybe Enea Bastianini if he stayed with Ducati, because you’ve got the most important thing done: you’ve got Marquez in red so now you sort out the rest.

“But I’m not convinced that a Bezzecchi or Bastianini is enough to convince Pramac. I reckon a three-year Yamaha deal, with what we believe the terms and conditions to be, is with €10-12million to Pramac. That’s a lot of money to Pramac. If you believe you’re not going to be winning titles – and Pramac won’t be if Marquez and Bagnaia are in factory red – then why not take the Yamaha route and see what happens?”

VK: “There just aren’t the riders available anymore to make Pramac stay with Ducati. They could still go, ‘Actually no, we want the good bikes please’. But for me this tips the scale towards Yamaha considerably.”

WHERE DOES BASTIANINI GO?

Even though Enea Bastianini’s performances on the second works Ducati have improved considerably this year, his chances of keeping that seat looked increasingly remote.

His manager Carlo Pernat has indicated that he’ll now be off to the Tech3 GasGas team that Acosta is currently showing up the main KTM line-up with. Acosta’s already guaranteed a move into KTM’s factory team for 2025.

VK: “I think you would try to stay at Pramac if you were Bastianini and Ducati would still have an interest in keeping him because it’s seen his value and he still has a lot to offer as a Ducati rider. If he’s heading out of the Ducati structure then that shows the whole structure has been upended.”

SP: “When I spoke to Pernat at the weekend he indicated that they knew staying at the works Ducati team wasn’t going to happen, so his preferences were first Aprilia and then the KTM group.

“KTM’s technical lead to the Tech3 project is Alberto Giribuola, who was Bastianini’s crew chief when he was winning at Gresini Ducati, so there’s a link there right away that they think they could build on and turn into something strong.”

WILL THIS IMPACT THE 2024 TITLE FIGHT?

Martin’s championship lead over Bagnaia already dropped to 18 points after Mugello, and now he faces the double disadvantage of both being at a satellite team and being on his way out of Ducati altogether.

Though Ducati has so far tried hard to ensure its satellite riders can fight it for titles too, that’s been with riders who are staying in the fold.

Conversely, Marquez heading for the factory team in 2025 could mean his title bid is bolstered by more parts coming his way. He’s 35 points down on Martin right now and 17 off Bagnaia.

SP: “There’s no way that Marquez will now stay on the ‘spec zero’ 2023 Ducati. We already saw at the test before it was rained off that there were new bits coming his way.

“And I would imagine that Martin will now spend the rest of the season on the exact bike he finished the Mugello race on. That’s fairly standard when you announce you’re leaving a manufacturer – you don’t get the new parts.

“As if Bagnaia wasn’t already the title favourite, this bolsters him even more.”

VK: “I know freezing Martin’s spec would be the done thing, but Ducati is in a situation where that would be a publicity hit it doesn’t want. It’s desperately wanted to avoid looking like it’s putting its thumb on the scale while already dominating MotoGP, it’s always wanted to make it look – as much as possible – like everyone’s on an equal playing field.”

SP: “I think any PR hit from freezing his spec is better than the alternative of having the #1 on an Aprilia next year.”

VK: “I genuinely expect they’ll overcompensate and will make a big public show of still backing Martin’s title challenge – unless the bridge is so thoroughly burned that they’re never talking to each other again.”

SP: “I think that’s completely possible given the timeline. He basically rage quit the team. He just walked next door to the biggest rival and put pen to paper. I think Ducati will slowly freeze him out whereas Marquez’s crew chief Frankie Carchedi will immediately be added to 2025 development conversations as you assume he’ll go with Marc to the factory team. I can’t see there not being a power shift.”

IS APRILIA READY FOR MARTIN?

Though Aprilia is the only manufacturer to beat Ducati to any race wins this year and produced a long-shot title bid with Aleix Espargaro in 2022, it’s yet to prove it can sustain a season-long championship fight.

So though Martin is getting the factory rider status he’s always wanted, has he just consigned himself to a definite drop down the grid? Has he maybe even relinquished his future title shots?

VK: “He’s getting a worse bike and it’s a lesser chance of a championship next year as things stand, but if he’d had to accept a lesser bike from Ducati again that would have felt questionable.”

SP: “I imagine he’s convincing himself that he’s not going to a lesser bike and that the riders Aprilia has at the moment just aren’t as good as he is. That it will be like Pedro Acosta at KTM. He has to be going to Aprilia thinking he can win the championship there.

“Team principal Massimo Rivola has been open about how disappointed he is that Aprilia hasn’t got a title sponsor. I imagine part of the bet they’re making is that this will bring more sponsorship in, Aprilia will have more money to spend, reliability will be better as a result. There is obviously improvement to be made at Aprilia. Aleix Espargaro will have been convincing Martin that that’s not a problem and Rivola will be trying to secure as much extra budget as possible now.”

VK: “It feels like Aprilia’s the manufacturer that feels component wear and tear the most, and we’ve seen a consistent trend of its performances tailing off over a season.”

SP: “There are things that can easily be fixed by more resources.”

VK: “But the RS-GP is also a bit finicky. We’ve seen almost all riders that have come into Aprilia have pretty long adaptation periods. Even though Martin is a phenomenal rider, there’s no certainty he’ll immediately click with the bike. He’ll click with it sooner rather than later, but I’m interested to see how it goes.”

WHAT WILL VINALES DO?

In the scramble to complete Martin’s deal, Aprilia admitted it forgot to tell current rider Maverick Vinales that the news was coming. It still hopes and intends to keep Vinales as Martin’s 2025 team-mate given it’s Aleix Espargaro’s retirement that has opened up the vacancy for Martin to move into. But will this unsettle Vinales?

SP: “Vinales is going to be very, very upset about finding out from social media and Aprilia were very sheepish about forgetting to tell him. He’s already been flirting with other manufacturers.

“Rivola tried to suggest that Vinales is ‘the captain’ in the team now, if he wants to be. But he also said, effectively, ‘If he doesn’t want to stay, we’ll find someone else’. I don’t think Aprilia is now out of the silly season. There are still games to play there.”

VK: “I do expect Vinales to stay. A lot of people on social media think Martin would immediately blow Vinales out of the water and take control of Aprilia. I’m not 100% on that.”



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