Ducati has already unearthed its next MotoGP acc

For a marque that has an obviously capable factory rider line-up comprising a 27-year-old and a 25-year-old, Ducati is now arguably one of the MotoGP manufacturers least in need of a strong talent pipeline.

But the pipeline is there, and the pipeline is bursting – of the three riders it brought into the premier class last year, one was a race winner on his sixth start (Jorge Martin) and another took until start number 19 (Enea Bastianini).

In case that somehow wasn’t enough, it looks like yet another Ducati protege is already thriving in MotoGP, even if his results aren’t yet as obviously exceptional as they were for first Martin and then Bastianini.

Marco Bezzecchi was not the most heralded rookie of the 2022 crop – that was Raul Fernandez, whose freak sole Moto2 campaign was the kind of intermediate-class debut season that only Marc Marquez can boast on his CV.

Nor do the results make it obvious at first glance that Bezzecchi is a standout – he is the top rookie, but only with seven points and only one point clear of the next-best newcomer, RNF Yamaha’s Darryn Binder, who dazzled at a wet Mandalika .

He also didn’t exactly light up the timesheets this Friday at COTA, albeit this was likely a blip, with Bezzecchi citing a series of problems – which he didn’t feel at liberty to discuss further, but which he said prevented him from setting representative times and using the preferred of his two Ducati machines.

Yet in the two dry races so far, Bezzecchi’s initial superiority has been clear. While the other rookies have largely battled among themselves at the back – not because they’re somehow bad, but because this class is as brutal and stacked with evenly matched top talent as it’s ever been – Bezzecchi has differentiated himself from the group.

He was well ahead of his fellow debutants when he crashed while running 13th in Qatar, and was ninth in Argentina while none of his first-year peers made the points, none of them within 10 seconds of the Italian.


The Termas race was a particularly ominous sign given Bezzecchi nearly clipped Miguel Oliveira at Turn 1 and had to go well, well wide, dropping almost to the very back along with a couple of other riders who did not prove capable of making the kind of progress up the order he then managed.

“I was feeling very, very good on the bike, my riding was honestly good, also comparing with the other Ducati riders was nice,” he said.

“I’m starting to build up more confidence – obviously I need more time, more experience on the bike, to really know the Ducati well, but for the moment I feel good. Obviously I always need to adjust something, but this is also part of the game.”

Fellow Ducati newcomer Fabio Di Giannantonio offered his congratulations to Bezzecchi for his effort, while reigning Moto2 champion Remy Gardner – now at Tech3 KTM – acknowledged: “Most of the rookies are in the same boat. raul [Fernandez, Gardner’s team-mate] is basically next to me all the time. I guess that’s kind of reassuring. But yeah, Marco seems to just have another step. He seems to be adapting well to the Ducati.”

Bezzecchi’s high potential has long been acknowledged and had long made him a ‘MotoGP rider-elect’ of sorts within Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy before he finally got the nod for 2022. Remember, Aprilia did want him a year prior to that.

He was also a title rival of Martin’s in Moto3, and had an exceptional 2020 in Moto2 before a slightly more muted 2021. Perhaps that season two years ago was the truest indicator after all – Bezzecchi finished fourth, yet he wasn’t only the top rookie , but stayed well in the title hunt until the bitter end.


But you wouldn’t have predicted that Bezzecchi would begin 2022 as the cream of the rookie crop looking at the end-of-season MotoGP test last year, in which he was not producing the kind of laptimes as Gardner, Fernandez or Di Giannantonio.

When asked about that test and what happened since by The Race, Bezzecchi said: “In Jerez, I took – come cazzo se dice [how the f**k do you say it]’L’ho preso con calma’… I took it easy, because I wanted to make myself comfortable on the bike, try to feel what I needed physically, try to understand what I have to improve on myself and on the riding and then get ready during all the winter for the first official test.

“I was honestly surprised of course by my speed [so far] because at the end you never know.”


It’s a form of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ but Bezzecchi was anything but slow right away in 2022, producing an excellent pre-season test at Sepang.

You could have been forgiven then for wondering whether that was deceptive and track-specific. After all, Francesco Bagnaia looked a star in Sepang testing in 2019 but needed a lot of time to deliver on that potential at actual grand prix weekends.

And Bezzecchi still has a long way to go. A ninth-place finish isn’t exactly comparable to what Martin was pulling off last year.

Still, there’s no way Ducati hasn’t noticed that it has yet another rider on its books who’s taken to MotoGP like a fish to water. And if Bezzecchi continues this way, managing Ducati’s riches of young talent is bound to get even harder than it undoubtedly already is.