The die is cast. Paolo Campinoti has asserted the option, which he has held since 2020, to have two factory Ducatis also for 2024. This means that for the VR46 team there is no longer the possibility of having a GP24 for Bezzecchi whose only choice at this point if he wants a factory bike is to go to Pramac.
Will he do that? We doubt very much so. The GP23 - very up to date - which he could have in VR46 next year is a competitive bike. And we know that the new MotoGP bikes always have some problems to solve at first. Furthermore, given that his contract with VR46 provided for a 1+1, an option in favour of the team, at the end of 2024 Marco would find himself in the role of free agent with all contracts expiring and the possibility of arriving directly in Ducati from the front door, i.e. the red team.
This is the situation, and there is no other possibility. At least today, but time runs fast, and a decision needs to be made in time for the Austrian GP.
The risk that VR46 will switch to Yamaha in 2025 with Bezzecchi is low
The risk for Ducati of losing Bezzecchi, should VR46 decide to switch to another manufacturer, that is Yamaha, for 2025, exists but is low. At least, for as long as the Iwata house is in a technical situation like the current one. Furthermore, it seems that Valentino - we emphasize seems - who was already not particularly happy about being moved to the Petronas satellite team in 2021, has taken a rather dim view as well of the treatment reserved by the Japanese manufacturer for Morbidelli. That's a big difference to saying that VR46 will easily return to Yamaha.
Moreover, Rossi's team is proving to be one of the best in MotoGP, with Matteo Flamigni, Vale's crew chief and longtime telemetrist, and Uccio Salucci pulling the strings of a growing team. It’s a flexible and modern team that has also already signed a new title sponsor for the next three years, with Mooney set to take on a co-sponsor role after the move of its managing director Emilio Petrone, who had signed the previous agreement, to Pagani Auto.
At this point, there isn't even a remote possibility for Bezzecchi to sign directly with Ducati while remaining in VR46. In fact, the contract between Pramac and Ducati provides for a total cost in which a 'contribution' from the Borgo Panigale manufacturer is foreseen for the riders who are in fact under contract with the Bolognese manufacturer.
There isn't even much work to do for Gianluca Falcioni, managing director of VR46, the man who follows all the contracts of the Academy riders.
Instead, there is a lot of work that needs to be done by Ducati which has already offered another year of contract to Johann Zarco who, as we wrote yesterday, has an offer from LCR-Honda on his plate that could double his salary, but without offering him the possibility of being competitive. Could the man who in 2019, with a generous contract, decided to abandon KTM and only thanks to the direct intervention of Gigi Dall'Igna in Valencia, find a new home in Ducati?
What holds true for most riders, the most lucrative economic choice, doesn't seem applicable to the Frenchman.
The probability is that in Pramac everything will remain the way it is, even if Franco Morbidelli - whose most probable destination is the Gresini team - is available on the market.
Meanwhile, Paco Sanchez, Joan Mir's manager, is saying that the former world champion could take a year off from racing. Also, because there are no vacancies for him. Not many observers believe this but now, if Zarco doesn't accept the offer, we're assuming that Iker Lecuona’s return is certain. Even if one free seat would remain.
Life is tough for the Japanese manufacturers now!