Back in old MotoGP form in 2024 and still a loser at Ducati?

Enea Bastianini seems to have finally freed herself from the MotoGP form slump of the previous season. The Ducati factory rider is once again consistently at the forefront. At Le Mans, thanks to his race pace on paper, he could have fought for victory with Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez had Bastianini not made life difficult for himself with a weak qualifying and a long lap penalty in the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, he is falling behind in the fight for the factory position alongside Bagnaia, and even his own manager no longer believes he will stay in the red Ducati box.

Bastianini can actually be very satisfied with his 2024 season so far. He finished all five Grands Prix in the top five and was even on the podium in Portimao and Austin. In the sprints he only had one failure in Jerez. However, Bastianini still faces an uncertain MotoGP future: his contract expires at the end of the season. The big problem for Bastianini is that Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez are performing even better and are currently massively threatening Bagnaia’s status as number 1 at Ducati.

The decision for the place in the factory team will most likely be between Martin and Marquez. Ducati boss Gigi Dall’Igna explained at Le Mans that the stars’ entire MotoGP careers will influence the decision-making process and that the recent races are causing even more headaches for those responsible. Statements that don’t exactly support ‘La Bestia’. By the Mugello Grand Prix at the end of May, the protagonists should be certain in which colors they will or will not start in from 2025.

Carlo Pernat: Decision between Martin and Marquez

Even Bastianini’s manager Carlo Pernat is now preparing for a rejection from Borgo Panigale. “Of course I hope that Bastianini can stay in the factory team,” explained the manager legend in an interview on ServusTV in Le Mans. “But it’s their decision. We can only wait and see, but I think they will choose between Martin and Marquez.” But he doesn’t want to downplay his protégé’s achievements. “Ducati knows what happened last year and the year before that, so I would be very proud to continue with them.”

Pernat is clearly reminiscent of the 2022 season, when Bastianini secured third place in the World Championship after four race victories and thus won the contract Jack Miller and Jorge Martin received the factory position. The big disappointment followed in 2023: Bastianini seriously injured his shoulder at the first Grand Prix, and shortly after his return he suffered another few broken bones in Barcelona. The only highlight of the season was the Malaysian Grand Prix, which he won (including a tire pressure violation).

Carlo Pernat has represented Bastianini in contract negotiations for years, Photo: LAT Images
Carlo Pernat has represented Bastianini in contract negotiations for years, Photo: LAT Images

Enea Bastianini optimistic: Ducati knows my potential

When asked about the speculation that he probably had no chance of staying in the factory team, Bastianini showed his incomprehension. “It feels strange. I know I’m fast. But you also need a bit of luck to get everything together and unfortunately I don’t have that at the moment. That’s really annoying, but I think Ducati knows very well “What potential I have and what I can achieve on the motorcycle,” said Bastianini after the Grand Prix in Le Mans. “But of course they also know what Jorge can do. I can well imagine that the decision is very difficult.”

Bastianini: factory team, customer team or Ducati farewell?

What arguments does Bastianini have on his side? First of all, as already mentioned, he was able to successfully shake off the weak form of the 2023 season and is currently in fourth place in the World Cup. If he is spared from injuries, he will be able to achieve further podium places in 2024 and probably celebrate one or two wins. Francesco Bagnaia also repeatedly praises the collaboration and team structure in the Desmo box. The world champion and his compatriot get along well. Of course, Bastianini wouldn’t give up as number 2 without a fight in the future, but an internal conflict at Ducati seems to be easier to avoid with him than with the Spanish alphas Martin and Marquez.

At least the former Moto2 world champion is currently in a good position to stay in the Ducati camp. Due to the ongoing negotiations between the Italian factory and Pramac, VR46 and Gresini, it is still unclear who will make up the customer team for the coming season and whether a current Desmosedici from the 2025 vintage would emerge for Bastianini. Not to mention whether the young Italian from Rimini could accept a demotion or flee to the competition. He could dock with Aprilia, which is repeatedly associated with him.

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