Marquez, Vinales and Quartararo were the three big names on the MotoGP market, but with today's announcement of Marc's four-year renewal, now the places are all taken. Yamaha made their moves and anticipated everyone, Honda held on to its priceless possession and Ducati have been left empty-handed. Even before the season begins, the magnificent 3 have already decided their future and in Borgo Panigale they must try and make the best of what’s still available.
"Obviously we are not happy that it went this way, our goals were different, but you don't always get what you want," admitted Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse sporting director.
Although Ducati had managed to wrest Lorenzo from Yamaha two years ago, this time they had to go without. Especially when it came down to the Yamaha riders, because Marc has always been out of range.
"The fact that Ducati was negotiating with Marquez was just an invention – clarified Ciabatti – We knew very well that he would stay with Honda because he told us."
With Marquez clearly unavailable, a much better idea would have been to focus on one of the two Yamaha riders. From the outside it looked as if Ducati failed to move decisively on the market and as a result were left with nothing. Ciabatti, however, rejects this interpretation.
"Sometimes we play the game in the right way, aggressively, but it’s not enough to win - he said - Yamaha boldly decided not to wait for Rossi's decision, but this doesn’t mean that we weren’t aggressive".
Eric Mahé, Quartararo’s manager, declared in our interview that he had never received an offer from Borgo Panigale.
"He didn’t want to receive it because he was in talks with Yamaha and was waiting for guarantees" pointed out the Ducati manager.
In other words, the Frenchman was waiting for the OK for a factory bike as early as 2020 and Yamaha, in exchange, insisted that he sign for the next two years. And Fabio got what he wanted, the Frenchman now in a position to count on a motorcycle that suits him perfectly. Unlike the Desmosedici, which is certainly a winning bike, but tends to scare many riders off.
Also, in this case, however, Ciabatti put the record straight as to what happened with the three riders.
"I guess Marquez was covered in gold by a company that develops the bike for him without thinking about the other riders. So, in my opinion, Honda has enforced its enormous power both from an economic and technical point of view - he explained - I think Vinales realized that for the first time he had the possibility of not being subordinate to the decisions of Valentino Rossi and it was probably a great motivation for him. As for Quartararo, after an excellent debut year he immediately wanted to guarantee himself an official bike and he has plenty of time to think about changing in the future".
There might have been a fourth option: Jorge Lorenzo.
"Maybe we made a mistake, but we never even considered it. With the exception of that time window last summer, but there were a series of problems that prevented that possibility from being finalized," replied Ciabatti.
The reasoning is valid, but the result does not change. The choices for Ducati at the moment have been reduced considerably and renewal with Dovizioso seems to have become almost a must.
"We are not forced to do anything, at this moment we have decided to take all the time required - said Ciabatti - Having said that, there is only one rider who has been ahead of all the others, Marquez excluded, and he did it for three years in a row, his name is Dovizioso and he is already with us. We also have Miller and Bagnaia in whom we have a lot of confidence and expectations."
The two young Pramac riders are a promise but so far that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Maybe they are still a hope for the future to straighten out a rider market that this year went badly.
“Bagnaia in Moto2 went better than Quartararo and he simply had a difficult season, then we also have one eye on Zarco. Without forgetting that maybe another rider could emerge. Who would have bet on Fabio two years ago? If you had said he would become an official Yamaha rider, everyone would have laughed at you."
The best alternatives, at the moment, are therefore in house. Maybe even with one eye on SBK, where Redding could be the salvation they have been waiting for. Maybe even in MotoGP.
"Scott's goal is to win the SBK world title, as it is for Davies. Redding has already had experience in MotoGP, probably obtaining less than he could have, and now his goal is to race with Ducati for two years in SBK, hoping that he will be able to win the title in the first if not the second year. After that, he is a young enough rider to make all the necessary considerations, but for the moment we haven’t even thought about it," was Ciabatti's answer.
Interview by Paolo Scalera