After splitting from Aprilia and enduring the pain of losing team boss Fausto Gresini, Enea Bastianini gave the new look Gresini-Ducati partnership instant success, ending the team’s 15-year MotoGP win drought at the Qatar season opener.
The Italian went on to secure three more wins and third in the standings on a year-old Desmosedici, clearing the way for promotion to the factory Ducati team alongside world champion Francesco Bagnaia for 2023.
In Bastianini’s place comes another former Moto2 world champion, Alex Marquez, who joined the premier-class alongside brother Marc at Repsol Honda in 2020. Meanwhile Fabio di Giannantonio remains with Gresini for his second season in the premier-class.
The team’s latest MotoGP livery – unveiled alongside the Moto2 and MotoE projects today in Italy, in a ceremony also attended by Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna – continues the distinctive Aldo Drudi-designed ‘retro’ light blue and red of last year.
However the (Ducati) red is now more prominent, occupying the lower half of the riders’ leathers and more of the machine.
While Felo is Gresini’s title sponsor in MotoE (resulting in the red being replaced by yellow) and QJMOTOR has stepped in for Moto2 this year, Gresini remains without a main sponsor in the premier class. ‘The Next’ wording from last year, present where a title sponsor should be and signifying the team’s next chapter or next challenge, has been removed for 2023.
Following Marc’s arm injury, Alex Marquez impressed by taking Honda’s only podiums of that year but already knew he would move to the satellite LCR squad for 2021.
The #73’s results on the ill-performing RC213V have been on a downward trend since, a best result of fourth and 16th in the world championship in his first year at LCR being followed by seventh and 17th overall last season.
The double world champion now makes a fresh start at Gresini, for arguably a make-or-break season, as he seeks to revive his front-running form from the Moto3 and Moto2 classes.
“This team has a great history and I’m so excited to be here,” Marquez said at the launch. “I tried the Ducati for one day [at Valencia], it was difficult to draw a lot of conclusions but the potential was there. The first feeling was nice, also with the team. We know what this bike can do. We know every year has up and downs, but if we work together through it all we can have a really good season.”
Di Giannantonio, who signed a Moto2-to-MotoGP deal with late team boss Fausto Gresini, experienced a bittersweet rookie season in the premier class.
The young Italian delighted his team with a home pole position in tricky conditions at Mugello, part of a promising mid-season run that culminated in eighth place in Germany.
But he later endured six races without a point, before the 15th in the Valencia finale, leaving him the 20th and last of the Ducati riders in the world championship.
Di Giannantonio will work with Joan Mir’s title-winning Suzuki crew chief Frankie Carchedi this season, when he and Marquez will again use year-old Desmosedicis.
“We start 2023 with a pinch more of red, which stands for determination, passion, fire… I’m eager to continue growing and do well,” di Giannantonio said.
“We want to take this new season race-by-race, with the awareness that this is the right time: the top ten should be the regular occurrence, while top five a realistic goal. The team is charged up and I trained 300% hard for this year – we’re ready!”
Marquez and di Giannantonio will take to the track in their new colors during the official Sepang test from February 10-12.
Gresini’s current Ducati machinery deal expires at the end of this season. If the extra red is anything to go by, the team plans to continue…