There have been a host of riders who have tried to ride the Ducati Desmosedici, and apart from Casey Stoner, they have been at best only moderately successful. This struggle, combined with Casey Stoner's unexpected illness, has prompted Ducati to mount a search for someone - anyone - else who showed any aptitude at all for riding the GP9.
So when Aleix Espargaro was given the opportunity to replace Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati, who had in turn been promoted to the factory Ducati team to take the place of Casey Stoner, nothing much was expected. Espargaro had been given the ride mostly because he was available, the Spaniard and brother of 125cc star Pol finding himself out of a 250 ride and forced to take a ride in the Spanish CEV championship while waiting on better times. But Espargaro impressed immediately. With no experience of MotoGP, the Spaniard finished 13th at Indianapolis and 11th at Misano, and surprised the paddock even more by setting the 5th fastest race lap behind Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.
So impressive was his showing that Pramac team boss Paolo Campinoti tried immediately to shift Niccolo Canepa out of the team and replace him with Espargaro. Canepa fought that move, demanding his contract with Ducati be honored, and got to stay until the end of the season. But Campinoti got his way in the end. According to multiple reports from around the paddock at Estoril, Pramac Ducati have signed Aleix Espargaro to ride for them in 2010. The Spaniard already had a contract with a Moto2 team, but an escape clause in his contract allowed him to accept the Pramac ride for next season.
Espargaro's move begs the question of just how strong the Spaniard will be on the Ducati. His two debut outings were certainly impressive, but doubt still lingers over just how much luck was involved in those results. Careful analysis of his races suggest that Espargaro may well be the real deal, but only next year will bring out the truth.