Enea Bastianini being chosen over Jorge Martin at Ducati next season, Andrea Dovizioso’s last race and the possibility of Marc Marquez riding at the Misano test – just some of the topics on this week’s Crash.net MotoGP podcast featuring Keith Huewen.
Bastianini had been locked in a duel with Martin over the remaining factory Ducati seat for the last few months, with the Italian ultimately getting the nod to ride alongside countryman Francesco Bagnaia in 2023.
Martin will now remain at the satellite Pramac team with Johann Zarco next season, again riding the latest Desmosedici machinery.
“The right decision?” asked podcast host Harry Benjamin.
“I think so,” replied former British champion and grand prix rider Huewen. “The smile on Paulo Ciabatti’s face after the pole position by Bastianini in Austria said it all to me really, I think Bastianini had [already] got the job done.
“It’s a good choice. Bastianini has got headroom, talent-wise, to make the next step with a full factory team and he’ll also be able to look across the garage and see Bagnaia there – who could easily still be world champion this year – as a kind of mentor.
“The flipside to a factory ride is that you’ll often be on a development motorbike, which the technicians are still working their way around in terms of the set-up and data. Whereas with a year-old motorcycle, you have all that data already logged in, so you can go back to some kind of default.”
Crash.net MotoGP editor Peter McLaren added: “It wasn’t an easy decision for Ducati, I’m sure. But I think it’s the sensible decision when you look at the results; three race wins by Bastianini on a year-old bike.
“The Bastianini-Bagnaia partnership is going to be fascinating because we quite often see Bagnaia fastest at the start of races, Bastianini fastest at the end of races. They are both quite clever in how they use the bike and tyres to find something a bit special in terms of performance, but at complete opposite ends of the race!
“If Bastianini can qualify better, but keep that end-of-race form, he’s going to be pretty formidable next year…
“It’s a big promotion. Coming into this year you’d have said Bastianini was about sixth in-line out of the eight Ducati riders, given the five guys ‘above him’ on GP22s. But if you are Jorge Martin, you’re now staying put, third-in-line after the factory team riders.
“As Keith says, the decision was probably already made before that last-lap lunge by Martin on Miller in Austria, but you do have to wonder if that might have been a bit of an ‘Andrea Iannone moment’ from Argentina 2016?
“Martin didn’t take Miller down, as Iannone did to Dovi, but we know from that and other past situations that Ducati doesn’t like its riders to take those kinds of big risks with other Ducatis. By crashing, Martin also handed Aleix Espargaro an extra point in the riders’ championship and Aprilia in the teams’ and constructors’ championships.
“But there’s no doubt that Jorge Martin is an incredibly fast rider. And when you consider that Ducati’s only world championship came by taking a risk on Casey Stoner for 2007, seeing the raw talent and overlooking the ‘rookie’ mistakes with LCR Honda… If you were picking the rider most similar to Stoner back in 2006, you’d probably say Jorge Martin rather than Bastianini.
“The genius in all of this from Ducati’s side is that they were able to sign both of these young stars on new contracts – with factory money, factory support – before deciding which team they were actually going to be in next year.
“Because otherwise, if you were Jorge Martin and had just found out you are not going to be in the factory Ducati team, you’d say, ‘hang on, there’s a Repsol Honda that hasn’t been officially filled yet, let’s see what they have to say…’ But it’s already done, he’ll stay at Pramac.
Huewen explained: “What you do get at Pramac is less pressure, which sometimes can be a massive positive. It’s a very friendly team. It’s got a great atmosphere. The Jack Millers of this world were made for Pramac, when he came through Pramac it was just a fantastic atmosphere.
“Where the factory team probably has more advantages is that you get more direct personnel concentrating on setting up the bikes. That goes for any factory team.”
‘Revenge! I want to prove you all wrong!’
When Benjamin asked, “What does this do for the mindset of Jorge Martin?” Huewen replied:
“Revenge! ‘I want to prove you all wrong!’ All these guys are massively motivated, but that will be a little extra percentage point. He’s got to control that, but it will be interesting to see how fired up he is by it.”
The trio then discuss the final race for Andrea Dovizioso and the possibility of Marc Marquez making a MotoGP comeback at the post-race test before making their podium predictions for Sunday’s race.
Download Episode 61 at the following links…
New podcasts available each week.