The penultimate piece of the 2021 MotoGP rider puzzle has fallen into place. As has long been reported, Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini will be riding for the Avintia Ducati team next year. The young Italian pairing will be riding updated Ducati GP19s, with strong support from Ducati.
It was an open secret that Bastianini would be moving up to MotoGP after the Italian Moto2 rider announced as much at Misano in September. Marini's move was also long-anticipated, as protracted negotiations continued over how the VR46 Racing structure would replace the funding lost by replacing Tito Rabat, who had a contract with Avintia for 2021. Those details took a long time to sort out, but are finally settled.
The signing of Marini and Bastianini leaves one space unclaimed on the 2021 MotoGP grid. The final seat in the factory Aprilia team is still being held open for Andrea Iannone, should the Italian be cleared of his doping offense by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS. So while Aprilia wait for that verdict, they are running out of options for riders to replace him. Andrea Dovizioso is actively negotiating with Yamaha and Honda for a role as a test rider, with Honda currently the hot favorite there. Cal Crutchlow is also believed to be looking at a test rider role, rather than racing for Aprilia. Aprilia have parted ways with Bradley Smith, who had been angling for the seat alongside Aleix Espargaro, and replaced him as test rider with Lorenzo Savadori.
All this means that Aprilia will have to wait until after mid-November to try to persuade someone to race for them, if Andrea Iannone's suspension is not lifted. That could be very difficult.
The press releases from Esponsorama/Avintia, Ducati, and the VR46 organization appear below:
ESPONSORAMA RACING BETS ON YOUNG TALENTS IN 2021
Esponsorama Racing is pleased to announce that Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini will form a team in the 2021 season in the MotoGP World Championship.
Both Italian riders, who are currently fighting for the Moto2 title since the start of the season, have shown great abilities to deserve a motorcycle in the premier class.
For the first time, Esponsorama Racing team will have in its ranks two riders of a similar level with which to continue growing as a team. The structure will feature with two Ducati GP19s with improvements throughout the season, which will allow the two young riders to fight for the title of ¨Rookie of the year¨ in the category.
“Esponsorama Racing demonstrates once again the evolution carried out in recent years, going from being the tail of the category to fighting for front positions thanks to the technical and sporting restructuring of the team added to the arrival of Johann Zarco and the evolution of Tito Rabat in recent years. Time has shown that things well done pay off and we only have words of thanks to our partners such as Ducati, Öhlins or Brembo and all our sponsors. Having Luca Marini with us next year and the structure of the SKY VR46 is a source of pride since, to this day, it is one of the strongest structures in the championship in all categories. Next year we will make a leap in quality in which we have high expectations of continuing to show that we are a benchmark team in the MotoGP World Championship "
“Getting to MotoGP is the dream that every rider has had since childhood. Having this great opportunity and being able to share it with Sky Racing Team VR46, Esponsorama Racing and Ducati is even better. In these years with the team I have accumulated a lot of experience, I have grown, and I have achieved the first important results. We are in a crucial phase of the season; we will continue to work hard to reach the maximum goal before taking this big step together"
“I am very happy to get into MotoGP with Ducati and Esponsorama Racing. Now I have to concentrate on finishing the season, since I would like to go up as World Champion although I know it will not be easy. The following season, several riders made the leap to MotoGP, we started a new adventure together with the fastest riders in the world in which I think that together with the team I will be able to achieve good results"
Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini will be the two Ducati riders of the Esponsorama Racing team in 2021
Ducati Corse is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the Esponsorama Racing team and riders Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini, thanks to which the two young Italian riders will make their debut in MotoGP in 2021 with the Ducati Desmosedici GP bikes entrusted to the Andorra team.
Born in Rimini in 1997, Enea Bastianini participated in his first season in Moto3 in 2014 after two victories in the Rookies Cup in 2013. In his debut year in the World Championship, Enea conquered three podiums taking his first victory the following year together with other five podium finishes and ending third in the overall standings his second season in the class. 2016 Moto3 runner-up in the Championship with six additional podiums to his credit, including one victory, the rider from Romagna raced two more seasons in this class picking up several successes. In 2019, Enea stepped up to Moto2 taking his first podium in Brno, Czech Republic. In the current season, in his second year in the intermediate class, Enea has so far scored three wins and seven podiums and is fighting for the title: he occupies the second position in the overall standings, just 7 points behind the championship leader.
Luca Marini, born in Urbino in 1997, joined Moto2 in 2016 after having distinguished himself in Moto3 in the Italian and Spanish Championships. After two seasons of apprenticeship, Luca joined the SKY Racing Team VR46 in 2018, and took his first victory, together with four other podiums and two pole positions. The rider from Marche continued with the same team in Moto2 the following year, adding two more victories and four podiums to his tally. This year Marini has so far achieved three wins and five podiums in total and, with 155 points, occupies the third position in the Championship, just 23 points from the top of the standings.
Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager:
"We are very pleased to have reached this agreement thanks to which two young Italian talents will be able to make their debut in MotoGP next year on our Desmosedici GP bikes entrusted to the Esponsorama Racing team. This year Raul Romero's team has shown that it has reached an excellent level of professionalism. Thanks to the renewed technical support that we will provide to the Andorra team in 2021, we are sure that it will support Enea and Luca in the best possible way in their first rookie season. Both Bastianini and Marini have shown to be highly competitive in Moto2 this year, and we are sure that the time has come for them to move up to MotoGP. We will provide them with all the necessary support to accompany them on their way to the top category. With this decision, Ducati intends to continue with its strategy to enhance the young talents, that has already led Pecco Bagnaia to make his debut in MotoGP with Pramac Racing in 2019 and to reach an important goal for 2021: to wear the colours of the official Ducati team".
"Racing in MotoGP is a dream come true for me, and I'm happy to be able to do it with Ducati, of which I've been a big fan since the days of my idol Casey Stoner. It will undoubtedly be an important step that will push me to grow a lot, and I would like to move up as the Moto2 World Champion, even if it will not be easy. I want to thank my family for all the support they have given me since I was a child and my manager Carlo Pernat. I would also like to thank Ducati and the Esponsorama Racing team for the trust they have in me: I will try not to disappoint them!
“Having this great opportunity to race in MotoGP in 2021 is a dream come true for me, it's the desire that every rider has had since childhood. In these years with Sky Racing Team VR46 I have accumulated a lot of experience, and thanks to them, I have grown and achieved my first important results. Now we are in a crucial phase of the Moto2 season, and we will continue to work hard to reach our maximum goal, before embarking on this exciting new adventure together with Ducati and the Esponsorama Racing team".
AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH DUCATI: LUCA MARINI TO COMPETE IN MOTOGP IN 2021 IN THE COLORS OF THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 WITH THE ESPONSORAMA RACING TEAM
Another mission accomplished for the Sky Racing Team VR46 as after Bagnaia, another young Italian talent moves up the top class
New rider line up in Moto2: newly-promoted CELESTINO VIETTI RAMUS will share the pit with MARCO BEZZECCHI on Kalex
Valencia, November 2020 – 2021 will be a year full of news with Luca Marini debuting in MotoGP thanks to the agreement signed with Ducati: he will compete in the colors of the Sky Racing Team VR46 within the Esponsorama Racing Team. New rider line up in Moto2: it has been confirmed that Marco Bezzecchi will race in Moto2 and will thus share the pit with Celestino Vietti Ramus, promoted to the new class. Sky Racing Team VR46 is confirming and stepping up its commitment alongside the young Italian riders as in the next season it will be focusing on three riders and two classes, Moto2 and MotoGP, with the great news of the team’s debut in the top class.
MOTOGP - With Luca Marini the promise to support the young Italian motorcycling talents is once again fulfilled. Luca will be riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Esponsorama Racing Team with the colors of the Sky-VR46 duo and will bring with him in the top class some of the members of his current technical crew. For the second time since its birth (the first in 2018 with the Moto2 title won by Francesco Bagnaia), the Team born from the synergy between Sky and VR46 reaches one of its main goal with Luca Marini set to compete in MotoGP after an intense training and growth path. Considering the World Championship, the Spanish Championship and the CIV, over 10 riders took their first steps into the Circus with the colors of the Sky Racing Team VR46. Currently third in the Moto2 standings, Luca will be the second rider who grew up in the orbit of Sky and the VR46 Riders Academy to move up to MotoGP following Francesco Bagnaia, who won the world title with the Team in 2018.
MOTO2 – The effort of the Sky Racing Team VR46 in the intermediate class has been confirmed, with Marco Bezzecchi ready to get back on the track among the protagonists. Currently fourth in the standings and with five podiums achieved this season, Marco will share the pit with Celestino Vietti Ramus, rookie in the class. Celestino, with the Team since the CEV and from 2018 in Moto3, will continue his growth path with the same team. Well-established partnership also with Kalex: the German factory will supply the technical material also in 2021.
Alessio Salucci, VR46 Riders Academy and Sky Racing Team VR46
“Announcing that another rider of ours and of the Sky Racing Team VR46 will move up to MotoGP makes us so proud. Together with Sky, with whom we started this extraordinary adventure in 2014, in recent years we have given a decisive boost in favor of Italian motorcycling. Today, thanks to the agreement with Esponsorama Racing Team and Ducati, Luca Marini and the Sky Racing Team VR46 will be able to race in the top class, which from next year will thus be relying on the talent of another Italian promise. It is a great opportunity for the whole Team, but also a decisive moment for the rider's future and for our entire motorcycle movement. I'm sure we have a spectacular 2021 ahead of us”.
Pablo Nieto, Team Manager Sky Racing Team VR46
“For those who have been part of this project since 2014, MotoGP has always been a dream. After being alongside Bagnaia in his path to the top class in 2019, we are about to watch him compete in 2021 in the colors of an official factory while reaching a similar goal with Marini and the Sky Racing Team VR46. We decided to put ourselves to the test along with Esponsorama Racing and Ducati, whom we ensured our trust and maximum support. We also expect a lot from Moto2, with Bezzecchi among the fastest and most talented riders in the class and Vietti Ramus as a rookie”.
Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse Sporting Director
“We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with Esponsorama Racing and Sky Racing Team VR46 thanks to which Luca Marini will be able to make his MotoGP debut in 2021. Luca has proven to be one of the fastest and most competitive riders in Moto2 and Ducati will give to him all the necessary support in his first year as a rookie in the top class. With this decision Ducati wants to continue its strategy for enhancing the young talents that has already led Pecco Bagnaia, who also grew up in the Sky Racing Team VR46, to make his debut in MotoGP with Pramac Racing in 2019 and to reach an important milestone for 2021 to compete with the colors of the Ducati official Team”.
Raul Romero, Esponsorama Racing Team
"With the agreement signed today, the technical and sporting restructuring of the Esponsorama Racing Team continues: in the recent years, from being the tail light of the category to fighting for the positions that matter thanks to Johann Zarco and the important grow path made by Tito Rabat. Over time we have shown that work pays off and we have to thank our partners such as Ducati, Öhlins, Brembo together with all our sponsors. We are so proud to welcoming Luca Marini to the Team next year together with the SKY Racing Team VR46, one of the strongest and most solid Teams in the Championship. We have high expectations for this great breakthrough, our goal is to continue to demonstrate that we are a reference Team in the MotoGP World Championship".
“Competing in MotoGP is every rider’s dream. Having this great opportunity and being able to share it with the Sky Racing Team VR46, Esponsorama Racing and Ducati is even better. In these years with the Team I have gained experience, I have grown and I have achieved the first important results. We are in a crucial phase of the season, we will continue to work hard to reach the maximum goal before making this big step together”.
CELESTINO VIETTI RAMUS
“Competing in Moto2 with the Sky Racing Team VR46 is a great opportunity. I am very happy to share another key moment in my career with this Team. Marco is a lifelong friend, it will be nice to work together and Luca is an example to follow".
“I am very happy for Luca, he has proven to be ready for MotoGP. I am also happy with my new teammate because Celestino is my lifelong friend. Since I joined the Sky Racing Team VR46 I have regained the confidence I was hoping for, I'm sure we will have fun in 2021”.