Gresini Officially Confirm Switch To Ducati For 2022, Bastianini And Di Giannantonio As Riders

Today, the Gresini Racing Team announced that their immediate future lies with Ducati. The Italian team, now run by Nadia Padovani, the widow of team's founder Fausto Gresini, will lease Ducati Desmosedici machines from the Bologna factory for the 2022 and 2023 MotoGP seasons.

The link with Ducati had been widely trailed, the Gresini team wavering between remaining with Aprilia as a satellite squad or switch to Ducati. The projected rider pairing may have had an influence on that decision: that Fabio Di Giannantonio would be moving up to MotoGP with Gresini for 2022 was a given, part of his deal for Moto2. But Enea Bastianini's switch from the Esponsorama squad, set to leave MotoGP at the end of 2021, to Gresini was not a foregone conclusion. Bastianini's ties to Ducati may well have weighed in the balance.

While Di Giannantonio already has a contract with Gresini, and is racing for the team in Moto2, it is something of a return for Enea Bastianini, and a reunion for the two riders. Bastianini started his Moto3 career with Gresini, first on a KTM, then later on a Honda, winning two races and scoring another 7 podiums for the Italian team. He was joined by Di Giannantonio in the Gresini Moto3 squad for the 2016 season, before leaving for the Estrella Galicia team.

Although no details of what level of machinery Ducati will be supplying were announced, it is widely expected that the team will have one-year-old bikes, meaning that Di Giannantonio and Bastianini will start the 2022 season with Ducati Desmosedici GP21s. That this is no bad thing is plain from the current MotoGP championship standings, where GP21s occupy positions two, three, and four. The fourth GP21, in the hands of Jorge Martin, has also had a pole and a podium.

Gresini's choice to sign with Ducati means there will be 8 Ducati Desmodedicis on the grid in 2022. The VR46 team, who will take over both slots from Esponsorama next year, are also expected to announce a deal with Ducati soon, with Luca Marini on one machine, and an open seat for the other. However, as the VR46 team is set up to provide bikes for members of the VR46 Riders Academy, the most logical choice would be for current Sky VR46 Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi to make the step up alongside Marini. Paddock reports suggest that Marini will get a GP22, while the second rider will be offered a GP21.

The separation of Gresini from Aprilia is part of the new team and factory contract period with Dorna for the coming five seasons. When Aprilia entered MotoGP, there were no spare grid slots, and so Aprilia were only able to enter in partnership with the Gresini squad. This led to the awkward situation of a full-factory effort being present in Parc Ferme as the first independent team rider, and the team taking part in the Independent Team Championship.

Dorna and Aprilia agreed to grant Aprilia their own grid slots for the coming contract period, from 2022 through 2026. Aprilia will now compete as a separate, full factory team, while Gresini become fully independent once again. That independence gave them the freedom to choose who to lease MotoGP machines from, which in turn led to their decision to switch to Ducati.

The press release from Gresini appears below:


THE NEW GRESINI MOTOGP PROJECT IS BORN

The future of Gresini Racing is ‘red’

Starting from next year, Gresini Racing will be back as an Independent MotoGP Team, with Ducati as the manufacturer of choice. This decision has been strongly supported by Fausto’s family, and it leads to a whole new project tied with the Borgo Panigale brand for the next two seasons.

Team Gresini will be back in full control of their Premier Class effort and will do so with the all-Italian line-up of Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastianini, two talented young riders who are no strangers to Fausto and Gresini Racing.

A big thank you goes to Aprilia Racing for the seven years spent together, which made for an especially important chapter in the history of Gresini Racing.

NADIA PADOVANI – GRESINI RACING TEAM OWNER & TEAM PRINCIPAL

“It’s a very emotional moment for each of us. In previous months, our efforts merged with a strong emotional push to shape the future of Gresini Racing, and now are immensely proud and happy to make the official announcement. It is a project born out of continuity and based on values upon which Fausto built this amazing institution. My thank you goes first and foremost to Carmelo Ezpeleta for making sure we never felt alone during these months, to Ducati for trusting our projects, to Flex-Box who joined us in this new challenge as title sponsor and obviously to Fabio and Enea: I’m sure they will give their best to wave the Gresini Racing banner high.”

GIGI DALL’IGNA – DUCATI CORSE GENERAL MANAGER

“We’re incredibly happy to have reached this agreement with Gresini Racing for the next two MotoGP seasons. We had laid down the foundations of a possible agreement with Fausto already at the end of last year and we would like to thank - from the bottom of our hearts - his family for carrying this project forward with us. Gresini Racing has been an especially important institution in MotoGP for many years and we are confident this partnership, which can count on two very talented riders such as Enea and Fabio, will be of great satisfaction for all parties involved."

CARMELO EZPELETA – CEO DORNA SPORTS

“First of all, it is a pleasure to continue working with Gresini Racing as an Independent Team. I know how much Fausto cared about this project and I'm sure he would be very proud of it now. I had the opportunity to speak with Nadia in recent weeks and I see in her, in her sons and the whole team the determination and the great passion for this sport that characterized him so much. We’re thrilled that Gresini Racing will continue, at least, 5 more years in the Premier Class”.

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Comments

So 8 confirmed Ducatis on the grid now.  That's over 1/3 of the bikes.  If the VR46 team sign with Ducati, that's 10 out of 22 bikes, or 45%.

At what point do we call MotoGP the Ducati Cup?

I thought the original goal was to have 6 different manufacturers with 4 bikes each? 

I think you've forgotten that VR46 is replacing Avintia. So only four pairs of Ducatis next year: factory, Pramac, Gresini, VR46.

And with Gresini and Aprilia splitting, there should be 24 bikes on the grid next year.

There will be 4 Hondas, 4 Yamahas, 4 KTMS so the idea has been at least partially successful. Aprilia don't have the budget available to build more bikes, for whatever reason Suzuki don't appear interested in running more than 2 machines.

Ducati have the willingness and the enormous resources of VW Audi Group to back that up. All things considered I'd rather have 8 Ducatis on a 24 bike grid than 4 Ducatis out of 20. My only concern is that Ducati having 30% of the grid may grant them disproportionate power come the next round on contract negoatiations.

I agree on the "disproportionate power" aspect.  We've already witnessed what amounts to the dissolution (ar at least the irrelevancy) of the MSMA, so what are the potential pitfalls of a single manufacturer controlling fully 33% of the grid?

We've already seen historical precedent vis-a-vis the "Ducati Cup" era of WSBK, when Ducati exercised its muscle to bend the rulebook toward regulations that gave their bikes an inherent advantage over the competition.  Whether or not you agree with that last sentence on its merits, it's difficult to deny that the series was referred to as the "Ducati Cup", and the public perception and fallout was a political pressure that had to be dealt with.  Allowing a single manufacturer (of six total) to dominate fully 33% of the MotoGP grid is the foundation of how problems like that in WSBK come to fruition.

Since Dorna has labored for so long to produce a series that's so tightly packed and produces such a great spectacle, I think they're making a mistake by allowing this to continue.  Ducati has effectively locked Suzuki and Aprilia out of even trying to field more bikes at this point, because they've chosen to stack the grid as much as they possibly can and have taken every potential slot that Suzuki or Aprilia could have tried to fill.

It's funny - I used to root for Ducati because I perceived them as being a bit of a scrappy underdog, fighting the good fight to try to win a Championship through hard work, grittiness, good race strategy, and solid engineering.  The more time goes on, though, the more I start to perceive Ducati as being a team that can't win a championship in a straight-up fight, so they try to win it through manipulating the rulebook, stacking the deck, and petulant hissy-fits (they're the one team that seems to have a great track record for sacking riders the moment they stop producing).  Which leads to the phlosophical question about whether the victory is as "legitimate" if you simply remove anyone you perceive as a threat?

I think we're on that sliding spectrum somewhere, and I think this series will become lopsided very quickly if Dorna doesn't get out in front of it the way they did with Honda (remember when they threatened to leave MotoGP and Dorna basically called their bluff?).

One man's opinion.

I definitely see your point Buddy and I also would have liked to have seen six pairs of factory bikes and six pairs of satellite bikes. But there is a counterpoint: Suzuki and Aprilia have both been back in MotoGP for several years now and have had plenty of opportunity to establish a satellite team. For whatever reasons, they haven't done so... and if Ducati are ready and willing to put more bikes on the grid, who can blame them?

While the content may differ i also share similar concerns.

It's hard to talk about other manufacturers being 'locked out' by Ducati, they are free to offer deals to satellite teams and it would be a stretch to imagine teams being somehow forced to accept one deal over the other in order to balance bike numbers.

The motives of Ducati are also impossible to know for sure. Yes, it could be to dominate the grid, increasing the amount of effort and investment going into the producing the 'show' and therefore possibly increasing political power within the paddock. However, there are many advantages to having more bikes. 8 race bikes versus 2 gives a huge difference in testing capacity at the limited official tests...more data but half of it from last years bike. There would also be more 'friendly' riders on the grid who might be helpful during crunch moments but looking at the freedom Pramac has had to show the boys in red which way to go i doubt that to be the case outside of specific criteria.

It's also worth noting that there would be no increased Ducati presence within the MSMA but more of the teams at IRTA would be in contract with Ducati. (I think that's correct...?)

My main worry would be a greater level of informal consensus within the paddock on the racing. Only time will tell. With everybody in the paddock being very careful about what they say these days it's only a small step to being very very careful about what you say and never forgetting to say what is supposed to be said. The more people saying it, the louder the message.

 

I don't think it's a huge concern just yet on Ducati count, but I get people's hesitation on it. As for Aprilia, they technically have the backing of Piaggio (granted, their revenue is literally two orders of magnitude below VW). So the parent company has the funds to run 4 bikes, they just seem unwilling. It's the same case with Suzuki; Suzuki Motor Corp has revenue that's one order of magnitude above Piaggio. And they are world champions! If that's not enough impetus to fund a satellite team, I guess we'll never get one.

Honda, who now has the only "bad bike" on the grid, was the last power imbalanced violator/abuser of MotoGP. It was bad for everything, including them if you ask me. 

Dorna grew a huge set of balls and pushed wisely. It was Ducati that broke the MSMA's lockstep and brought it's power back down where it ought to be. Red was bold and innovative. Clever. Big changes, bikes improved greatly. Honda feasted on its own excrement. 

And who was it that tucked into all this draft and took the cup in 2020? Wee Suzuki! Absolutely beautiful, eh?I Iam not very concerned about Ducati pulling Honda shite. MSMA doesn't change w the bike numbers, and they are no Honda. 

That it is an up and coming bike, rather than either an overdog or underdog, is promising. Putting all these Italian kids in Red? Interesting narrative. Bonesaw46 bringing a pipeline from Yamaha to Ducati is a coup, and a big deal. Italy has a juggernaut. Personally, the Saudi regime team being "just a customer" on yr old kit is good - I prefer them off the tv and my mind. Would prefer to have Gresini get the one top kit bike. Still, congrats Fausto!

As noted, the 2021 Duc is a great bike. But is it one to put kids on to transition into the class on? Absolutely not. History will say that Yamaha just made an error. But most notable for me is both Suzuki and Aprilia stalled when the lights go out. This isn't just a once in 5yrs moment, is it? It may be a long time indeed before a team like Gresini or Bonesaw46 (they offer SO much!) pulls out wallet and pen. I will get over disappointment with Yamaha, they may have just relieved us from an era of stepping towards overdog status by losing the VR46 pipeline and resources? But never will I stop the grimace and head shake re Suzuki and Aprilia here. Regrettable loss. 

Still cheering the underdog - go Suzuki! Fantastic bike.

P.S. anyone catch the bit on camera at the test of Quartararo about to put his helmet on where he triple extra exaggerates the zipper and velcro closure on his leathers? Great facial expression. I like the kid. 

... is that they have a strong tendency to succeed as a team, but when they're not succeeding it's the rider's fault.

It's like the old saying - "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan".

I understand 8 bikes are too many for a single supplier. Still, Suzuki did not want to go to 4 bikes, Yamaha and KTM were not interested in having 6, nobody would want Honda and Aprilia is not credible enough. So it must be Ducati.

I am happy as Ducati has always provided the same material as the internal team. Not all will have the latest material but those who get it will have the same as Bagnaia and Miller. That looks much better than sub par equipment that some other manufacturer used to deliver to private teams.

With Ducati having so many bikes it makes it easy to pick them as the manufacturer for my fantasy team because you're pretty much guaranteed scoring points from them based on % of bikes on grid. They are dominant in that respect but I think we'll see a new rise in Suzuki ans KTM's stocks once the truly get going so they may become my choices sooner rather than later.

Good to see some great new talent coming through too! The new guard has arrived!