As we know, Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Jack Miller are battling it out for the second factory Ducati MotoGP ride, a seat that is without question one of the most highly sought-after on the grid.
And with good reason as Ducati have won three out of the opening six races, albeit two of those came from Bastianini on 2021 machinery.
However, Jerez was a breakthrough, not only for Bagnaia as he won his first race since Valencia last year (first podium of the year too), but also Ducati’s new GP22.
Despite the early season struggles for all riders aboard 22 machinery, Ducati are beginning to hit their stride which could lead to a title challenge, especially in the hands of Bagnaia and possibly Bastianini.
Three MotoGP races to decide who joins Bagnaia?
While Miller has done little to suggest he should lose his seat, the results of Bastianini and the potential of Martin is something many believe has put the Australian at risk.
In fact, Martin and Bastianini are now considered to be favorites ahead of Miller for next year’s factory ride.
Speaking about both riders and when a decision could be made, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti told Sky Sports Italia: “Ducati is definitely betting on them in the future. There is only one place in the factory team, but the goal is to keep them both on a Ducati.”
Ciabatti seems to suggest either Bastianini or Martin will get the factory seat, however, keeping Miller is also of considerable interest to the Bologna-based manufacturer, as Lenovo Ducati Team Manager Davide Tardozzi (speaking on the grid at Portimao) said retaining the three- time premier class winner is a big priority, regardless of which team that’s with.
If the time frame given by Ciabatti is followed, then the next three MotoGP races at Le Mans Mugello and Catalunya are likely to serve as auditions for all three riders involved.
On current form Bastianini has been the better of the three and if he could take another win at one of the three rounds mentioned, then it would understandably be hard for Ducati to pass up the former Moto2 world champion.
But as we’ve seen previously, Ducati likes to elevate riders from its Pramac team which could therefore make Bastianini a favorite for that seat, whilst putting him on 2023 machinery alongside the two factory riders.
Martin can’t afford any more DNF’s
The rider rumored to have a Ducati contract already in his pocket is Martin.
The Pramac rider, who was sensational as a rookie, has once again shown incredible speed at times this season, however, his 2022 campaign has been severely impacted by in-race crashes.
Although the fall in Qatar wasn’t his fault – was taken out by Bagnaia who lost the front at turn one – Martin also crashed due to his own mistakes in Mandalika, Portimao and Jerez, which is why the 24 year-old is only 13th in the championship.
While there’s no doubt about Martin’s place within Ducati, the next three rounds are arguably more important for him than Bastianini or Miller.
Brief in his description of what happened in Jerez, Martin said: “It’s a difficult moment and there are not many things to say. Unfortunately this is what racing is all about.”