In addition to the riders' market, there is also the teams' market. In the coming season there's always the chance that teams will change manufacturer. Suzuki intends to double its commitment (as does Aprilia) and this could mean some significant changes are afoot.
At Barcelona there is a rumour (also reported by Sandro Donato Grosso for Sky) that team Pramac might put an end to its relationship with Ducati, one that lasted since 2005. We're not talking about 2017 - as there's a contract already in place which has to be respected - but 2018.
“We would like to continue with Ducati, we've collaborated with them for so long, but at the same time we're looking around”, confirms the team manager Francesco Guidotti.
Why would Pramac leave Ducati? There are two main reasons. On the one hand, Ducati has increased its participation, with 8 Desmosedicis on track, perhaps a little much, considering how difficult it is to manage so many teams and bikes. Redding, in his first six races of the season, has failed to finish on three occasions due to technical problems and this is not a good thing for any customer team.
On the other hand, Ducati hasn't yet confirmed the technical situation for next year, or rather, with which version of the D16 satellite teams will race. Up until now, Pramac has always had the most evolved bikes after those of the factory team, if not at the same level, as was the case for Iannone in 2014. There is no guarantee that this 'privilege' will continue.
“We've been loyal to Ducati even through the difficult times, we've overcome many together - continues Guidotti -I think we've done a good job over the years and I hope that this commitment is recognised. As I said, I'd like to continue the collaboration, continuing as the team of reference for Ducati”.
In other words, a decision to provide more updated bikes to ‘new entry’ teams like Avintia and Aspar would not be taken kindly. Pramac has therefore decided to develop a plan B, in case it is needed.
In this sense, Suzuki would be the most attractive option and Guidotti doesn't deny it, but we're still hypothesising here. Ducati now has to clarify its position and the most interesting aspect to teams is the technical guarantees.
Talk of divorce is not just premature but is also a hypothesis that may come to nothing. From Siena a message has been sent to Bologna, hopefully it wont get lost through the Appennines.