Another domino has fallen in the MotoGP satellite team Silly Season. Danilo Petrucci has signed on to remain with the Pramac Ducati squad for the 2018 season. Petrucci had been courted by Aprilia, but Petrucci has elected to stay with the team and the factory with which he has scored his most recent successes.
Petrucci has been key to the early progress made with the Ducati Desmosedici GP17. The Italian won the right to use the sole GP17 in the Pramac garage after outscoring his teammate at the end of the 2016 season. At the start of the season, that had more downsides than he had realized, as Ducati were using Petrucci to test parts and setup for the new bike, and then filtering that data back to the factory squad.
Since Jerez, however, Petrucci has been left to get on with the job of finding a setup which works for him, and that has been reflected in his results. He has scored two podiums so far this year, and second on the grid at the Sachsenring is his third front-row start in a row.
With Petrucci out of the running, Alvaro Bautista becomes the prime target to replace Sam Lowes at Aprilia, if the Italian factory decides to let him go. But Bautista is leaning towards remaining with the Aspar Ducati team, depending on the level of machinery available to him. Andrea Iannone has also been linked to the ride, but Iannone's slump in form is not making him a particularly attractive prospect.
Below is the current state of play for the 2018 seasons, with riders signed, expected riders, and open seats.
Below is the press release from the Pramac team announcing the contract renewal with Petrucci:
Danilo Petrucci and Octo Pramac Racing together again in 2018 with the Ducati Desmosedici GP
Octo Pramac Racing is pleased to announce the renewal of the contract of Danilo Petrucci. The Ducati contracted rider from Terni will defend the colours of the Italian team also in the 2018 MotoGP season, again on a Ducati Desmosedici GP.
I am very happy to stay with Octo Pramac Racing, I am glad to remain in the team I consider my home. I am also proud to be the longest-serving rider in the history of such an important team. I would like to thank Paolo Campinoti who welcomed me into the Pramac family and Francesco Guidotti who believed in me. A special thanks also to Gigi Dall’Igna, Paolo Ciabatti, and Claudio Domenicali for the support of Ducati, and for providing me with a factory bike that gives me the possibility to obtain great results.
We are glad to have reached the agreement with Danilo Petrucci to continue a project that is giving us great satisfaction. We have great confidence in the rider’s skills, and we are proud to have a fantastic person in our team. However, we are still not content. We will pretend always more and more from him. This is in Pramac’s DNA.
Two years ago we believed in Danilo. A bet that we feel we have won. The technical project involving Petrux and Ducati is in continuous growth and we are confident that we will obtain great results together, thanks to the work of the technicians and of the whole Octo Pramac Racing Team.