The bikes still haven’t set rubber on the track yet in 2018, but thoughts are already turning to next year. The rider transfer market promises to be hotter than ever and not only in terms of the hunt for top riders, all with expiring contracts, but also in terms of seeking out the best young talent.
This is especially true for the satellite teams like Pramac, often given the task of weaning the new recruits and preparing them for the factory team. Francesco Guidotti, team manager for the Italian team, is already on the hunt.
Francesco, Ducati sport director Ciabatti told us in an interview to follow Bagnaia and Mir closely. Are you thinking about one of the two?
“How can you not think about two riders like them? (laughing) We’ve had an eye especially on Bagnaia for at least a couple of years. I remember him in CEV, a young kid who goes abroad and is very fast and attracts attention.”
You like him?
“In Moto3 he showed that he is very fast even when he didn’t have the best bike of the bunch. Last year he was the best rookie in Moto2.”
And then he’s Italian…
“And we are an Italian team that races with an Italian bike… it is only normal to look for an Italian rider.”
Many also have an eye on Mir.
“He seems like one of the elect and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be fast in Moto2 too.”
In short, you won’t be looking for Marc Marquez.
“Maybe Alex – he is also an interesting rider, but he has ties to Honda and team Marc VDS.”
“Oliveira. We’ve already had some contact with him, although it was just a pourparler. I won’t pretend that there isn’t some interest, although I know that KTM is orbiting. The Austrians did well in MotoGP last year, but the most difficult thing is to shave of the last few tenths. Maybe there will be a chance.”
Do you imagine a team with two rookies?
“It would be quite a risk. I would prefer one rookie and one expert rider in order to have greater continuity within the team. For those coming to MotoGP, it is also easier if you have an experienced teammate you can compare notes with. Having two rookies would certainly be a great challenge from a personal point of view, but I already have enough to take on (laughing).”
Are you afraid of losing Petrucci at the end of the year?
“I would like to lose Danilo, but in the good sense. If he were to go to the factory Ducati team, we would all be happy because we will have done our part in his growth process.”
People often speak of Pramac as a Junior Team, but in all actuality, besides Iannone, the factory team has never plucked a rider from your line-up.
“Our relationship with Ducati goes beyond this aspect. It is also a technical collaboration. In the years when we did not contribute for the riders, we have contributed significantly for bike development.”