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Analysis

Why Marquez is the key to Pramac's continuation with Ducati in MotoGP

OPINION: Although there still exists the possibility of a MotoGP breakup between Ducati and Pramac, and consequently the association of Paolo Campinoti's team with Yamaha, the expectation of being able to count on Marc Marquez in 2025 has once again shuffled the cards in the deck

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing, Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Pramac has until the summer to unilaterally validate the agreement that would allow it to remain the only team with full factory support from Ducati in 2025 and 2026. Renewing the agreement would maintain its current conditions, so that the two riders in its line-up would be hired directly by the Bologna factory, and both would have the latest generation of Desmosedici that are identical to those of the two riders in the official workshop.

That privileged position, which currently gives access to the best bikes on the grid, was in danger of being blown to bits when Yamaha entered the scene. In the Japanese manufacturer's eagerness to regain the satellite team it has not had since the end of 2022, it presented Pramac owner Paolo Campinoti with a very tempting offer.

After being turned down by VR46, which had always been Yamaha's first choice as a future partner, the Iwata-based company entered into negotiations with Pramac. A member of the Japanese team, who expects an answer around the Italian GP at Mugello, told told Motorsport.com at Le Mans: "Our first alternative was always VR46, but we couldn't convince them. So plan B is Pramac, and we hope they will accept the offer we have made them." 

Pramac has, on the one hand, the possibility of continuing with Ducati in 2025-26 with a deadline on this decision expiring in July. The benefits offered by the Yamaha route are interesting for a satellite team, but the sporting aspect detracts a lot considering the M1 package's current lack of competitiveness.

The competition between Pramac and VR46 to become Ducati's preferred team was the main reason why Campinoti sat down to listen to Yamaha's offer. He has been seriously considering it, understanding that he will struggle to keep the current agreement conditions with Ducati beyond 2026.

Could Campinoti end Pramac's relationship with Ducati to join forces with Yamaha?

Could Campinoti end Pramac's relationship with Ducati to join forces with Yamaha?

Photo by: Mark Sutton

Another factor that jeopardises the Ducati relationship that made Pramac the best team in 2023, plus Jorge Martin the runner-up and current leader of the championship, is the Italian manufacturer's firm decision to reduce spending on the salaries of its riders. The signing of Fermin Aldeguer for 2025, with a base salary of around €300,000, is the maximum exponent of this philosophy.

The change paints a discouraging picture for Campinoti, who saw himself in 2025 with Franco Morbidelli and Aldeguer, as Martin looks set to move to a factory squad next year.

Marc Marquez enters the scene

Until last week, Campinoti's chances were 50/50 between staying with Ducati or leaving for Yamaha. But something happened at Le Mans that has raised it to almost 95% to staying with the Borgo Panigale squad.

With Ducati's new salary policy and with Bagnaia renewed until 2026, Ducati only has the budget to pay two high salaries

Marc Marquez, who is in his first season racing on a Ducati for the Gresini team and who has needed only five races to reach the competitive level of Martin and world champion Francesco Bagnaia (both on factory bikes) despite riding a 2023 machine, left Jerez two weeks ago saying that next year he wanted to ride for a factory team, and that red was his preferred choice.

"Pramac is a good team, but it is not official," he said at the time.

In France, however, the Spaniard changed his stance, opening the door to race in a satellite squad, as long as he could have the best material and support from a factory.

"As I am competitive, it is clear that next year I want to try to have the latest evolution available," he said on Sunday, having charged from 13th on the grid to second place in both races. "Whatever bike and whatever colour it is, but the latest specification."

Ducati has already informed Campinoti that it is working on the possibility of adding Marquez to the rider roster (at present he is only under contract with Gresini), and giving him a top bike. This has changed the scenery overnight.

Marc Marquez wants a factory bike and Pramac could be the perfect scenario for Ducati

Marc Marquez wants a factory bike and Pramac could be the perfect scenario for Ducati

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

There is only enough budget for one more rider

With Ducati's new salary policy and with Bagnaia renewed until 2026, Ducati only has the budget to pay two high salaries: that of the current champion, with a base of around €6 million, and that of his future garage neighbour. At only 26 years of age and with a salary - paid by Ducati - just under €4 million, Martin is not willing to lower his demands now that he is at the peak of his career.

The Madrid-born rider has already informed the executives of the red bikes that after the Italian GP on 2 June, if he does not have the contract with the official team on the table, he will sit down with KTM. The Austrian marque has already shown interest in getting him back, following their stint together in Moto2.

For Marquez, joining the factory team would mean having to give up most of his personal sponsors, since they conflict with many of those of Ducati's factory squad. What he would improve in salary he would lose with his sponsors, some of them important agreements and with many years of relationship, such as Red Bull, Oakley or Allianz.

Having done the maths and with general manager Gigi Dall'Igna's promise to offer the same treatment as the two official riders, Marquez's change of stance at Le Mans could very well respond to this reflection. Moreover, if we understand that Martin will only consider staying at Ducati if it is in the factory garage, the only formula the Italian manufacturer has to keep the two Spaniards is that. Otherwise, either #89 or #93 will be welcomed by a rival brand.

Yamaha can't find a dance partner

The big loser in this puzzle is Yamaha. The return to having a satellite team it lost at the end of 2022 by not extending its agreement with RNF, which aligned with Aprilia, was one of the arguments that the struggling Japanese marque used to encourage 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo to renew until the end of 2026.

VR46's refusal does not leave much room for manoeuvre. Plan B is Pramac, from which it expects an answer at Mugello.

"There is no plan C," an executive of the Gerno di Lesmo-based team told Motorsport.com. "We are hopeful that Pramac will accept our offer, which is very interesting. Otherwise we don't have an alternative in mind."

With all the above in mind, it would not be unreasonable to think that Yamaha will be forced to continue in 2025 with only its two factory M1s on the grid. That will be despite the efforts of team boss Lin Jarvis, who wanted to leave his post with the two main objectives of his final seasons - Quartararo's contract renewal and the recovery of a satellite squad - completed.

Yamaha is facing another season without a satellite team

Yamaha is facing another season without a satellite team

Photo by: Marc Fleury

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