until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Marquez forcing Martin out of Ducati shows he's still MotoGP king

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jorge Martin and Aprilia beat Ducati to the punch in announcing their joint MotoGP 2025 plans, getting ahead of the news cycle. But while Martin's move is an incredible coup for Aprilia and will allow Martin to spearhead a MotoGP factory like he wanted, the unquestionable winner in the spectacular silly season chess match that has transpired is six-time champion Marc Marquez.

Marquez's capture of the red bike and the garage spot next to Pecco Bagnaia, the ever in-form protege of his arch-rival Valentino Rossi, looks like an off-track masterpiece that can rival any of his actual wins.

That it comes after a weekend in which Marquez's 2024 title hopes were made to look as faint as ever, as his 2023-spec Ducati had no answer to the works spec bikes, is arguably icing on the cake. Whatever is going on on track - and that's not to make it sound like Marquez hasn't been delivering on-track, because he objectively has - this has proven that MotoGP continues to revolve around #93.

It will not come without its sacrifices for Marquez. It is widely expected that he will have to at least pause a long-time Red Bull association, as Ducati's works team is sponsored by Monster. It is not clear whether he will be able to take any of his Gresini crew with him. It is unlikely that it will be the kind of payday that compensates for his decision to quit a mega-money Honda contract one year early. He may have got that payday elsewhere.

But it doesn't really matter. Marquez will get himself what is tracking to be the best ride in MotoGP in 2025, and all the benefits of being a factory rider with it. And, in doing so, he looks to have inadvertently culled the ranks of his Ducati stablemates/adversaries, too.

Ducati was tracking for an embarrassment of riches for 2025 with a best-of-both-worlds solution - Martin to the factory team, Marquez to Pramac and a factory-spec bike, Pramac staying within its ranks instead of going to Yamaha as a consequence.

The Spanish Motorsport.com report that first broke the story of Ducati's Marquez choice earlier today suggests that had been the outcome things were trending towards, or at least the outcome Ducati was working towards, before Marquez suddenly made it clear that he had no interest in going to Pramac.

Why he said it doesn't really matter, and whether it was the real catalyst for everything that followed - that, too, doesn't matter so much. After all, it is not difficult to see why Ducati may see the appeal of Marc Marquez in factory red, rather than in any satellite team, for publicity and marketing purposes.

Ultimately, the simple maths of the equation is that Marquez has gone up against Martin for the seat that he wanted - against a rider five years younger, a rider who could very well take the #1 plate elsewhere next season - and won.

Martin now heads to Aprilia, a great team with a great bike but one that isn't a proven championship winner. And Ducati is expected to lose Enea Bastianini, too - all the reporting has suggested he is on the verge of a KTM/Tech3 deal. And there is no longer a top-tier Desmosedici wheeler to dangle in front of Pramac - so is it off to Yamaha after all, reducing the amount of Desmosedicis on the grid?

Pedro Acosta is still trending to be an absolutely monumental problem in 2025, and Martin could well win that year's title on the power of sheer white-hot rage alone. But for now, Marquez has completely re-arranged the chess board the exact way his die-hard fans will have drawn it up.

He can now also count on more support in his 2024 campaign - don't expect Ducati to try to hamper Martin, but allocating extra resources towards Marquez and Gresini would be a good and fair way of trying to maximise its chances of keeping the #1 plate on one of its bikes in 2025, whether Marquez's or Pecco Bagnaia.

The good news for Ducati is, he has clearly been great. His average race position (lap by lap) across all the grands prix and the sprints this year has been 4.4, well clear of the other riders on '23 Ducatis. It's an average of 9.0 for Fabio Di Giannantonio, 10.5 for brother Alex Marquez and 10.9 for Marco Bezzecchi.

That's a chasm. And it's a chasm against riders who were intermittently giving the likes of Martin and Bagnaia a lot of trouble last year.

Ducati is clearly aware of this, because otherwise giving up Martin would have been unthinkable. Bagnaia's already said his preference would have been for Bastianini to stay, and The Race understands he'd rather have Martin alongside him than Marquez.

So the fact that Marquez has got Ducati to make that Martin sacrifice is one of the most remarkable things he's ever achieved in MotoGP - which is saying a lot.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks