Marquez or Martin at KTM? That’s what Pit Beirer says

MotoGP is looking spellbound at Ducati. The class leader from Borgo Panigale has all the pieces to trigger a domino effect on the driver market. Francesco Bagnaia has a contract with the factory team until the end of 2026. It is still unclear who will be his teammate from next season. There are three top-class candidates: Marc Marquez, Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini.

Ducati could announce a decision as early as the home Grand Prix in Mugello at the beginning of June, but it could also wait until the summer break. One thing is clear: those drivers who don’t get a chance in the factory team could be considering leaving. Jorge Martin in particular has made it clear several times that only a factory contract is an option for him in 2025.

So it’s entirely conceivable that if Ducati rejects it again, he’ll change the manufacturer. One option in this case: The Pierer Mobility Group with its brands KTM and GasGas. Because Jack Miller and Augusto Fernandez are currently clearly falling short of expectations. As Spanish media report, the Pierer Mobility Group is said to have expressed interest in Martin. Jorge Martin and the Austrian company – that’s a difficult story, however. Martin rode in Moto2 for the KTM Ajo team and had a valid contract for MotoGP promotion in 2021. However, this included an exit clause if KTM did not have a rider in the top ten of the MotoGP Drivers’ World Championship by the end of June 2020. Due to the corona pandemic, not a single race had been run in the 2020 season up to this point, which meant that no driver could be in the top ten. A legal subtlety that Martin and his manager Albert Valera used to dock with Pramac for 2021. A heated argument followed. “If someone leaves us hanging in the Corona phase, then we will think twice about whether we want this driver back in the family at some point,” said KTM Motorsport Pit Beirer at the time.

Four years have passed since then. So asked Beirer – about the Martin case, about MotoGP superstar Marc Marquez, about the low form of Jack Miller and Augusto Fernandez and about the expansion to three teams planned last year. Pit, in your squad there are two drivers, Brad Binder and Pedro Acosta, who could actually be considered set for 2025. Binder because he has a contract until the end of 2026 anyway and at Acosta the performances speak for themselves at the moment. But you also have two drivers who are struggling at the moment: Jack Miller and Augusto Fernandez. What do these two pilots have to deliver to justify a contract extension?
Pit Beirer: It is clear that with Brad and Pedro we have two drivers who are fantastic, in whom we believe extremely much and in whom we have a lot of confidence for the future. My wish hasn’t changed: I want to continue marching with our four drivers. But your question is completely justified. Because to be honest: the current performances of Jack and Augusto are a bit too little for a MotoGP place, which is so valuable. We are already in a phase where we still have time, but not much. Augusto and Jack don’t have to make giant steps, but they have to be small steps forward to stabilize the package. That is still my wish. Of course there is movement in the driver market and other really good-sounding names are calling us and that makes you think. We are not yet in the aggressive phase on the bidding front where we are having any battles with Ducati or Aprilia. But it’s an exciting moment.

Augusto Fernandez is having a tough second year in MotoGP, Photo: LAT Images
Augusto Fernandez is having a tough second year in MotoGP, Photo: LAT Images

You mentioned interesting names, you mentioned Ducati. At the moment the whole MotoGP is looking up to Ducati and their decisions. Jorge Martin, Marc Marquez and Enea Bastianini are the candidates for second place in the factory team alongside Francesco Bagnaia. In the end there will inevitably be riders who are disappointed and may want to leave Ducati. Would there be any interesting pilots for you?
Pit Beirer: It is clear that at Ducati there is currently a surplus of absolutely exceptional greats in our sport. But we also have to be careful. With Pedro we have a real diamond in the rough on board and also Brad, who is damn strong. We have to be careful not to let too many riders attack each other on the same level in order to maintain a good overall atmosphere in the project. We are of course excited to see what happens at Ducati. Several drivers definitely want the place in their factory team and there will be some disappointed faces among the drivers who don’t get it. Then of course you have to answer the phone in a friendly manner when someone calls.

Let’s look at two names specifically: Marc Marquez recently made it clear that he would like to have a motorcycle of the latest model year in 2025, regardless of the manufacturer. Last year your managing director Stefan Pierer announced that Marquez wouldn’t be a good fit for you. In your opinion, has anything changed?
Pit Beirer: This statement should be assessed differently than it was recorded at the time. She didn’t mean it that way. Marc Marquez has been a hero for us in this sport since we competed in MotoGP. We have huge respect for Marc. But I don’t think it’s a realistic option for us. You have to think about what a brutal time Marc has had. I talked to him last summer and his desire was simply to find a motorcycle that he knew he could be completely competitive with. With this bike he wanted to get back to the top and he achieved that. That’s why I don’t see him changing brands again, which would mean a completely new beginning for him. Marc is a brilliant racing driver, but I don’t think it’s really realistic for us to talk about his commitment.

Marc Marquez celebrates second place in the MotoGP sprint at Le Mans
Marc Marquez is capable of winning again with Ducati, Photo: LAT Images

The second extremely interesting name is of course Jorge Martin. You have a difficult past with him. He was in your Moto2 team and should have ridden for you in MotoGP, but ended up at Ducati through a contractual loophole. Do you still hold that against him?
Pit Beirer: Grass has definitely grown over this matter. Anyone who knows us better knows how emotional we are and that we can be sad to death. When someone leaves us like that, we take it very personally because we put so much heart and soul into it. But Martin did everything right for his career and is now the championship leader. That’s why I don’t want to speculate about Marc or Martin. That would be presumptuous. Both riders are so damn strong at the moment, are on Ducatis and have little reason to change bikes. That’s why I don’t think it’s that important that I give my two cents about what I think of the two drivers. I really appreciate both of them as brilliant racing drivers.

Finally, another topic on which your two cents are important: Last year there was a long discussion about a third team from the Pierer Mobility Group. Is that still a goal for you?
Pit Beirer: No, we wrote that off. We tried extremely hard to achieve this. The reason for this was also an unfortunate contract situation. This is well known to everyone. After further analysis, we have now determined that four bikes is the optimal size for us. Two would definitely not be enough, but six could also be too many. You first have to manage six motorcycles and six drivers. That’s why we now want to provide full commitment for four drivers. We are trying to make the motorcycle even better and take the last step that is still missing.

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