Why Marquez at Ducati in 2025 is making more and more sense

[ad_1]

Over much of 2023, as the Marc Marquez-to-Gresini story gathered steam and eventually became reality, the manufacturer providing his MotoGP bike for this year – Ducati – was generally regarded as somewhere between reluctant and uninvolved.

While there were rumblings of the brand making an approach directly to Marquez to place him on a factory-supported bike, the Gresini deal was ultimately portrayed as a privateer outfit making its own decision as to its rider line-up – with Ducati’s general blessing, yes, but with it hardly being a motivator or a driving force.

And this, logic dictated, would mean that even if Marquez shows well on a privateer Ducati he would not be a first-priority target for the works team.

Ultimately, a lot of the things behind that line of thinking remain true. Marquez remains a phenomenal rider, but Ducati can and does win without him. Pecco Bagnaia is continuing to repay the brand’s faith as its focal point. And, financially, rival manufacturers should be in a position to be able/willing to make much more financially competitive proposals to Marquez – who surely will want to somewhat offset the money he gave up in 2024 by tearing up his Honda contract.

All of that is still valid. But the spectre of Marquez in Ducati red – while far from a guarantee of a straightforward outcome – just keeps making more and more sense.

The tangential evidence

Let’s take it first from some people who might know.

Within the Pierer Mobility Group’s MotoGP ranks, encompassing KTM and Tech3 Gas Gas, KTM team manager Francesco Guidotti has arguably been the biggest cheerleader for the idea of a move for Marquez.

Guidotti, of course, has a past connection with Marquez through KTM’s 125cc programme.

Right now, KTM seems to need Marquez less than ever – Brad Binder has hit his stride, and Pedro Acosta has all of MotoGP overcome with both excitement and trepidation after his amazing debut – but Guidotti still made it clear in Qatar, talking to Sky Sports Italy, that he would love to have Marquez in the camp.

But he also said that he believes Marquez “wants to play his cards with Ducati”, pointing also to the fact that it might not be most prudent for Marquez to put himself in a situation to be riding a third different bike in three years in 2025.

Exhibit B is Jorge Lorenzo, speaking to Spain’s Mundo Deportivo, saying that he would “not at all” rule out Marquez in works Ducati red in 2025 and that the mutual respect between Marquez and Ducati tech wizard Gigi Dall’Igna is key to that.

Lorenzo seems generally convivial with his sometime team-mate Marquez – that doesn’t mean he has some sort of inside track, he might just be seeing it from the standpoint that we all are. But Lorenzo’s history with Dall’Igna – he won 125cc races for Derbi when Dall’Igna was there, 250cc titles for Aprilia when Dall’Igna was there, and MotoGP races at Ducati when Dall’Igna was already there – is well-known, and the mutual admiration is, too. Remember that mid-2020 storyline about Dall’Igna reportedly pushing Ducati towards exploring a potential MotoGP reunion with a then-already-retired Lorenzo?

That does, at the very least, position Lorenzo as someone you would describe as more familiar with Dall’Igna’s thinking than most. And we know Dall’Igna isn’t detached from Ducati’s recruitment process – for the most recent example of this, see Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi’s admission that Dall’Igna was leading the charge in Ducati’s (Pramac-focused) negotiations with Moto2 hotshot Fermin Aldeguer (which reportedly have already concluded with an agreement).

Here’s what Dall’Igna himself said of Marquez’s debut in Qatar: “Marc has already shown all his talent and class through an innate ability to adapt: he is already a fearsome contestant on a bike that is completely new to him, the first of our 2023 bikes at the chequered flag [Marquez was fifth in the Qatar sprint and fourth in the 2024 season opener].

“The experience and desire of a champion wanting to once again have his say will make the difference in this new adventure.”

That, in itself, doesn’t mean anything. Dall’Igna is always pretty positive in his post-race columns for Ducati, and he was also complimentary to both Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin, the two main other contenders to partner Pecco Bagnaia in 2025, on that same page.

But it is also true that Dall’Igna has long been regarded as the person most in favour among the Ducati higher-ups of having Marquez in the camp.

Exhibit C is a more straightforward one. Speaking to Motorsport.com Spain, Mauro Grassilli – the new name among the Ducati MotoGP triumvirate of chiefs (alongside Dall’Igna and Tardozzi), having replaced Paolo Ciabatti as the brand’s sporting director – described Marquez as “an important rider to take into consideration”. Clear cut.

So is Exhibit D – Marquez is already very good on the Desmosedici.

The question marks that remain

The puzzle over whether Marquez could join the works Ducati team in 2025 is two-fold. The first question is whether Ducati really needs him. The second is whether he would have to (and would be willing to) make the sacrifices required to make it happen.

Ducati, right now, is spoiled for choice. Not only does it have great riders within its ranks already who could join Bagnaia in 2025, it could, in theory, snap its fingers and have somebody like Fabio Quartararo sign on the dotted line at a moment’s notice.

Certainly, Ducati doesn’t need to rock the boat in terms of line-up and is under no pressure to bring in anyone who it thinks might not be a good match for Bagnaia. And the Bagnaia-Marquez relationship has not been stress-tested by lead battles yet.

The safe choice is Bastianini, a good fit who has looked reasonable on the Ducati GP24 and produced a generally acceptable Qatar GP weekend if it’s viewed in the prism of being Bagnaia’s back-up/rear gunner.

But if Ducati is amenable to rolling the dice – and its rider market history suggests it can be, whether it’s led by Dall’Igna or CEO Claudio Domenicali – then isn’t Marquez a more obvious choice than Martin?

Martin says he would’ve signed already. And, really, he deserves to – he was great in 2023 and great in Qatar. But slotting him in alongside Bagnaia would rock the boat just like Marquez would. And Marquez is older, yes, so it’s more of a short-term play – but he’s also a bigger name, a bigger draw for sponsors and viewers.

And that brings us to the other element here.

It is known that Ducati, once a big spender when it came to bringing Lorenzo in, is not the leader when it comes to base salaries (right now it is basically the brand synonymous with performance bonuses instead).

Chances are, if either KTM or Honda make a play for Marquez, those offers would be more competitive.

But could that be offset by Marquez’s profile? Red Bull would chip in, surely. And there’s the recent example of Audi Spain – Audi being under the same Volkswagen Group umbrella as Ducati – making a mini-splash recently by adding the Marquez brothers as brand ambassadors.

It might be par for the course – it’s certainly not unheard of for a Ducati rider. But the fact it went noticed is telling of the pull Marquez still has. Bastianini and Martin are both great riders, and both – like so many in MotoGP – deserve a higher profile, but they are not Marc Marquez.

But also… we just can’t take for granted that the financial side will be all that decisive here.

After all, Marquez has already forsaken a bigger payday for the chance to run at the front. And he keeps speaking as someone who will only continue to ride in MotoGP to have a real shot at winning again – more so than bolstering his career earnings. If you hear Marquez talk, it always sounds like he’s already made enough to retire when he wants to – and join who he wants to.

It might depend on how much his first love Honda improves this year. But… as far as championship aspirations go, why wouldn’t you want to suit up in Ducati red?



[ad_2]

Source

Leave a Comment