Ducati has confirmed that four of its 2021 MotoGP riders – Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia at the Official Team, plus Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin at Pramac – will all have access to the factory’s latest machinery this season.
Those bikes will still be powered by GP20 engines due to the special MotoGP technical freeze, but with 2021 updates allowed in all other areas, including aerodynamics (once the season begins)
Meanwhile, as previously reported, the Avintia/VR46 team of Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini will remain on GP19 machines, of the specification used by Zarco at the end of last year.
“First of all, all six riders on Ducatis in MotoGP are contracted directly to Ducati,” explained Ducati Corse sporting director Paolo Ciabatti.
“The two factory riders and the two Pramac riders will be on equal machines, identical.
“The two riders in the Esponsorama team, Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini, will be on the latest spec of the 2019 bike, the same used by Johann Zarco in the last part of last season.”
Bastianini and Marini will thus have the oldest bikes (2019) on the grid, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) the only rider set to remain on a 2020 bike this season. All other riders are due to get the latest ‘2021’spec (albeit still powered by 2020 engines).
While all six Ducati riders are new to their respective teams for 2021, Miller, Bagnaia and Zarco will each have the same crew chief and electronics engineer as last season.
“We probably have a different philosophy than the other manufacturers,” explained Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna. “When riders start their career with Ducati, they start with a crew chief and also an electronic engineer, and then remain with these two guys for all their career with Ducati.
“So when the rider changes teams, also the crew chief and the electronic engineer change teams. I think this is a really good philosophy mainly from the rider point of view, and so we would like to continue like this.”
Ciabatti added: “To give you the names of the crew chiefs: Miller is with Cristian Pupulin, the same engineer he had at Pramac. Same with Pecco, who is with Cristian Gabarrini again.
“Zarco will be with Marco Rigamonte, as he was at Avintia/Esponsorama last year.”
Turning to the class rookies: “Martin is with Daniele Romagnoli, who was working with Petrucci last year. Bastianini is with Alberto Giribuola, who was working with Dovizioso. Marini is with Luca Ferracioli, who was coordinating the team and on the side of Tito Rabat.”
Ducati is the only MotoGP manufacturer to have more than one satellite team, helping fill the void created by Suzuki and Aprilia not yet supplying any Independent teams.
But that could change in the near future with Suzuki seriously considering a satellite team for 2022, when Aprilia will also split from Gresini and plans to have its own grid places.
With MotoGP’s long-term goal being for each factory to supply one Independent team, Dall’Igna knows Ducati will eventually have to cut back to four machines, but hopes to stay at six for as long as possible.
“It’s really difficult to tell you how long we can continue with three different teams in MotoGP, because for sure sooner or later, we have to switch to four bikes, because this will be the situation for the future,” Dall’Igna said.
“For sure our work is to continue as much as possible with this situation, because I think we can have some advantages with six riders on the grid. From the technical point of view we can have more information, this can help us to develop the bike.
“So it’s difficult to predict, but I hope this situation will continue also for the next few years.”