Ducati MotoGP boss Paolo Ciabatti has confirmed to The Race that the Italian manufacturer will retain the services of both Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin for 2023 – but that the team haven’t yet decided which one of them will replace Jack Miller in factory colours and which one will take the second seat at prime satellite squad Pramac Racing alongside Johann Zarco.
It has looked increasingly likely for some time now that Miller’s replacement would come from within Ducati’s own stable of riders, despite wild speculation in recent weeks linking the likes of 2020 world champion Joan Mir and KTM refugee (shuffled out by Miller) Miguel Oliveira to the seat.
However, with both Ducati’s 2022 MotoGP machine facing extensive teething problems at the start of the year and subsequently hampering Martin’s performance while Bastianini ran away to three victories on the 2021 bike, and with the Spaniard coming back from surgery to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome after the last race, Ciabatti says that there’s no rush to announce which one goes where.
“Obviously the target is to have both with us,” he told The Race at the German Grand Prix, “and now that we’ve reached that target we need to decide who goes onto the factory team.
“Enea did a fantastic first part of the season, Jorge had a few problems – we had a few youth problems with the GP22 plus he had some physical problems.
“I think it’s fair to wait a little bit. They’re going to have salary and technical packages as a factory rider wherever they go.”
With both apparently signed up for the future, it seems that no decision on the exact structure of the roster will be taken until at least the Austrian Grand Prix – which will come after this weekend at the Sachsenring, next weekend at Assen and then the British Grand Prix on the far side of MotoGP’s five-week summer break.
However, the decision won’t necessarily be the result of a straight shootout in terms of points – something Ducati did implement in 2016 to decide if it would be Scott Redding or Danilo Petrucci who won a factory-spec bike (within the satellite team) for the following year.
“It’s always a 360-degree situation,” Ciabatti explained, “and obviously results play a very important part but then there are also some other factors to take into consideration.”
Ciabatti also confirmed that Ducati has agreed terms with Johann Zarco to remain with Pramac for 2023, news that comes as little surprise given the noises made of late not just by Ducati and by its French rider but also by Pramac’s management, keen to retain the services of arguably its most successful MotoGP rider ever.
However, one rumour that was explicitly denied by Ciabatti was any links to Joan Mir, the Ducati chief effectively ruling out any chance of the Suzuki refugee joining its ranks for 2023 and strengthening rumours that he will replace Pol Espargaro at the Repsol Honda team.
“I never spoke to his manager about Ducati or the future,” the veteran team boss explained.
“It doesn’t mean that we don’t like Joan, it is just a fact that we never spoke to his manager about the possibility with Ducati.”