Luca Marini has been officially confirmed as moving to MotoGP next season, riding for Avintia Ducati alongside fellow rookie Enea Bastianini.
The much-rumoured deal means that Marini will compete on the same grid as brother Valentino Rossi, becoming the third set of siblings in the premier-class alongside the Espargaro and Marquez brothers.
Both Marini and Bastianini will have year-old Ducati GP19 machines.
“Getting to MotoGP is the dream that every rider has had since childhood,” Marini said. 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”
Marini’s move could well be a precursor to the VR46 team also joining the MotoGP grid in 2022, when the start of a new contract between the independent teams and Dorna means VR46 would not need to buy an existing grid place.
Marini (a six-time grand prix winner and currently third in the Moto2 standings) and Bastianini (also a six-time winner and second to Sam Lowes in the standings) join Jorge Martin in moving up to the MotoGP class next season.
Bastianini, previously announced as a Ducati MotoGP rider but with his team not officially confirmed until now, said: “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.”
“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,” said Avintia’s Raul Romero, suggesting Marini (at least) will continue in Sky colours.
“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.”
Tito Rabat had a contract in place with Avintia for next year, he has struggled to match the results of new team-mate Johann Zarco and, while his 2021 plans are unclear, had been linked with a Ducati WorldSBK ride. Zarco is moving from Avintia to Pramac next season.