Moto2 frontrunner Enea Bastianini is ‘99% sure’ of securing a MotoGP seat at Avintia Ducati for 2021, as the double race winner looks set to be rewarded for his impressive results so far this season with the chance to replace the departing Johann Zarco.
That’s according to Avintia team boss and 2003 World Superbike runner-up Ruben Xaus, speaking exclusively to The Race after today’s opening day of practice for the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano, as the pieces begin to fall into place for the remaining seats on next year’s MotoGP grid.
With Bastianini joining the squad on a contract directly with Ducati in Bologna, like Zarco currently enjoys, it would cement Avintia’s new-found status as a Ducati satellite team rather than a mere customer outfit after a dramatic turnaround in fortunes in only a few short months.
“It’s not official yet,” Xaus told The Race, “but it seems like we’re going to welcome Enea Bastiani, and we’re happy to welcome a young Italian rider.
“With the results he’s got in Moto2 this year I think he can really show his potential in MotoGP next year.
“We want to use his arrival to continue growing as a team and as a situation.”
He will be stepping into Zarco’s shoes, with the Frenchman already signed to Ducati for 2021 but as yet unsure if that means a spot in the factory squad alongside Jack Miller or in tier two satellite team Pramac Racing alongside the still-to-be-announced Jorge Martin.
With his own future secure, two-time Moto2 world champion Zarco was quick to give his seal of approval to the team’s decision on who to replace him with – especially after the huge steps forward Avintia has made since he joined it.
“With the good work we have done in Avintia, with the investment from Ducati in this team, plus the good results that I could have and am still aiming to have with them, it’s good to then bring Moto2 riders into a Ducati team like Avintia, if the team is working well,” said Zarco.
“We’ve been a trampoline to bounce Johann into this position” :: Ruben Xaus
“For Bastianini, the way now he won the races in Moto2, I’ve been very impressed by him.
“I think he will understand MotoGP pretty well because he has this talent from Moto3 that showed he was fast, he didn’t take too much time to be fast.
“In Moto2 it seems a bit more complicated but you can see that when he is feeling good he has even more confidence than the others.
“It’s not easy to make this step but when he has it, he impressed me, and I think he will understand MotoGP.”
While it might be a challenge for Xaus to lose his star rider after only one season, especially after Zarco’s incredible underdog performance to finish on the podium at Brno last month, he says it’s a challenge that the team is happy to face.
“I’m the first one to say that I don’t want Johann, not because I don’t want him but because I think he deserves an official [factory] bike,” said Xaus.
“We’ve been a trampoline to bounce him into this position, and I’m delighted that we’ve done it.”