Tech 3’s confirmation with KTM follows that of Viñales with Yamaha and Marquez with Honda, and it puts a serious lien on the future of Johann Zarco, the true gem of the 2018 market.
If Yamaha is momentarily displaced and can only wait for Valentino Rossi, perhaps trying to close a deal with Marc VDS, to find Morbidelli in their camp, or another team to have free hand, now it’s Ducati’s turn to make a move.
“As we said, the goal – if the conditions are right – is to confirm both of our riders - confirmed Paolo Ciabatti with Corriere dello Sport - We had to determine a couple of important sponsors, one of which has already arrived, whereas the other is 99% done. At this point, with a more serene budget, we can sit down to negotiate with our riders’ managers. After all, we had explained it to both of them. Within a couple of weeks, we’ll begin serious negotiations.”
This means closing the deals right after Losail…or maybe even before – who knows?
After Tech3’s decision to leave Yamaha and team up with KTM, Zarco is also on the market, since he wants a factory bike in 2019.
“To be honest, we have not thought about Zarco because Ducati has riders under contract with whom we are satisfied - continues Ciabatti - Before looking in the neighbour’s garden, we need to look in our own: we have both Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller who have an option with us for next year. Then we have signed with Bagnaia. We also need to learn to settle! And anyway, it isn’t settling, given the talent that we have in our own camp.”
Of course, Yamaha has more problems: confirming Rossi for another two seasons precludes the arrival of some young riders.
“Sure, with Tech 3 leaving, it makes things complicated for them because they had considered Zarco as somewhat of a done deal. However, sooner or later team VR46 will arrive and that will be with Yamaha, but after Rossi’s statements, the project will stay on the drawing board until Vale decides to hang up his crash helmet. But Valentino is an asset for Yamaha and both Yamaha and Rossi know that. He is still a fast rider. Having someone like the Doctor on the team is important, beyond his immense popularity, because he still manages to be competitive and a protagonist in all the races. For Yamaha, Rossi is a huge value.”