Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti has confirmed that the Bologna factory will decide who will partner Australian Jack Miller in the factory Ducati Team for MotoGP in 2021 “before the Misano round” next month.
Speculation as to who will be Miller’s team-mate next season has been rife since Dovizioso confirmed he won’t be signing a new contract with Ducati beyond 2020 after the factory offered reduced terms because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Dovizioso was 125cc World Champion in 2004, but he has been racing the MotoGP class since an incredible rookie season in 2008, where he finished as top Independent Team rider and fifth overall.
His first victory came at Donington in 2009 when riding for Repsol Honda, before the Italian moved to the Ducati Team following a stint with Monster Yamaha Tech 3. A key part of Ducati’s journey back to the top, ‘DesmoDovi’ is one of the hardest to overtake on the brakes – and one of the cleanest competitors in battle.
After long seasons of hard work saw the bike more and more competitive and a consistent frontrunner, 2017 saw the Italian challenge for the World Championship down to the wire in Valencia after a stunning six wins across the season.
For 2018, he hit the ground running to win the season opener, endured some harder races and then came back swinging – ending the year runner up once again. His 2019 season began in similar fashion, with a win in Qatar.
However, a certain Marc Marquez turned up the wick and proved too much for everyone, with Dovizioso claiming nine podiums – including two wins – on his way to finishing overall championship runner-up for a third year in a row.
But, with Ducati and Dovizioso unable to agree on terms for a contract in 2021, the two parties will part ways.
It seems there are two candidates to take the Italian’s place: Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia – currently side-lined through injury – and Esponsorama Racing’s Johann Zarco.
Ciabatti confirmed Ducati and Bagnaia have agreed a new two-year deal. Ciabatti also said that Zarco will also be continuing with Ducati in 2021. However, Ciabatti affirmed that he and Ducati are still deciding who to put in the factory team.
“Yeah, it’s true we agreed a deal with Pecco (Bagnaia) for two years. It’s too early to say if it’s with Pramac or the factory team. We also continue with Johann Zarco and will make up our minds just before Misano.”
In addition to the hype around Dovizioso’s vacant seat in factory red, Ducati are involved in plenty of talk surrounding a couple of Italians leading the Moto2 World Championship – Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
“Yeah as you know there is another Moto2 rider that is of interest to us, but we cannot mention at the moment, but for sure, both Enea and Luca are doing well,” commented Ciabatti. “We are considering the possibility of another Moto2 rider joining Ducati for the coming season. I think again we will probably make a decision in the coming weeks and the target is to make an announcement just before Misano so that then the rider line-up for Ducati 2021 will be clear.”
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin, a stand-our rider in Moto2, has long been linked with a Pramac Racing ride for 2021 too.
The 2021 Ducati line-up really is a puzzle at the minute, but it appears we’ll have all the pieces in place ahead of the doubleheader at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, which kicks off on Friday, September 11.
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