The first big contract to be signed in MotoGP's so far torpid silly season is one of the least surprising. Today, Ducati announced that they had signed up Pecco Bagnaia for two more years, meaning the Italian will stay with the Bologna factory for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons.
It had been the intention of both parties to continue for the foreseeable future, especially after Bagnaia's exception 2021 season, in which he came close to preventing Fabio Quartararo from taking the MotoGP title. Talks had started at the end of last year, with the details finalized during the Sepang and Mandalika tests. Ducati expect that Bagnaia's improvement over the 2021 season and the Italian factory's new GP22 will once again pose a potent challenge for the MotoGP crown.
Bagnaia staying with Ducati was the first move and one of the most widely anticipated, and is likely to set the tone for the 2022 silly season. There is little sign of major rider moves being made, with neither riders nor factories showing much appetite to move around. The biggest questions remain over whether Joan Mir or Fabio Quartararo will leave their respective employers for pastures new, whether KTM can persuade Raul Fernandez to stay with them, or if he will head to Yamaha as he had intended to do for the 2021 season, and whether a factory will be so enchanted of the potential of Pedro Acosta that they will move to sign the Moto3 champion early.
None of those decisions are expected early, however. Teams and riders will want to have a look at how the first part of the season plays out, with the return of a more sane silly season likely, and contracts settled nearer the summer, around Mugello and Barcelona time.
The press release from Ducati appears below:
Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati set to continue together in the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons
Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati Corse have reached an agreement that will see the Italian rider aboard the Ducati Lenovo Team's factory Desmosedici GP bike for another two seasons.
Born in Turin in 1997, "Pecco" Bagnaia made his MotoGP debut in 2019 with the Desmosedici GP of the Pramac Racing Team. He also contested the 2020 season with the same squad, achieving his first podium at the Grand Prix Lenovo of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, where he finished second on the rostrum.
Promoted to the official Ducati team last year, the Turin-born rider continued to shine after taking pole position and finishing third place in the opening GP of the 2021 season in Qatar and soon became one of the main title contenders. With nine podiums, four victories and six pole positions, Bagnaia ended 2021 in second place and is now looking forward to the new Championship, which will start on 6th March at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team)
"Being a Ducati rider in MotoGP has always been my dream, and knowing that I can continue with the Ducati Lenovo Team for another two seasons makes me happy and proud. I have found a serene environment in the factory team: I feel very much in tune with my team and know that we can do great things together. Now I can only concentrate on doing well in this Championship. A big thank you to Claudio, Gigi, Paolo, Davide and all the Ducati Corse staff. I'll try to repay their trust with my results on the track!"
Luigi Dall'Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse):
"We are delighted to have Bagnaia with us for another two seasons. Since he arrived at Ducati in 2019, Pecco has shown great talent and the ability to interpret our Desmosedici GP very well, adapting to ride it in any condition. He did it, especially in the last season, during which he had significant growth and got to play for the World Title. The way he managed the races at Aragón, Misano, Portimão and Valencia, scoring four fantastic victories, is proof of his maturity as a rider. With these great qualities, we are sure that he has the potential to aim for the title with us".