MotoGP: Francesco Bagnaia secures 2021 factory Ducati spot
Ducati have confirmed that current Pramac Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia will line-up alongside Jack Miller in the factory team next season.
Despite missing three races with a broken leg, Bagnaia is still having an impressive second season on for the satellite Ducati outfit. A mechanical issue in Jerez cost him the chance of his maiden MotoGP podium, which would eventually come at the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano - a result claimed whilst still using a crutch to get around the paddock.
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The 23-year-old was on his way to victory in the Emilia Romagna GP at the same circuit when he crashed out with only seven laps remaining. The Italian has taken a big step forward in 2020 after a tough maiden campaign in MotoGP.
"I chose to be a Ducati rider even before becoming the Moto2 World Champion in 2018 and they chose me even before knowing that one day I would become one," Bagnaia said. This was our bet, because up until that moment I had always been a fast rider, but I didn't have anything concrete in my pocket: Ducati decided to believe it even before everyone else. We didn't know how it was going to go, but to date, if I had to go back, I'd do it all over again.
“My MotoGP debut was complicated, but at Ducati they never questioned me: they gave me all the support and trust a rookie needs and they let me experience in 2019. I listened to them, I trusted them, together we learned to know and understand each other, and now we form a great team. They taught me a working method that allowed us to take away some great satisfaction and I think this is just the beginning."
Bagnaia and Miller take over from Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in the factory team. The latter joins Tech3 KTM in 2021, however it's not yet known what lies ahead for Dovizioso. Aprilia may be an option for the 15-time MotoGP race winner, or alternatively he may opt to take a year-long sabbatical.
Bagnaia was believed to have been in direct competition with Johann Zarco for the second factory spot. The Frenchman, currently at Esponsorama Racing Ducati, will take Bagnaia's spot in the Pramac team next year. He'll be joined by current Moto2 rider Jorge Martin.
"Today I am the happiest person in the world, for me it is a dream come true: being an official Ducati rider has always been my ambition and I have succeeded together with all those who have always believed in me even when things did not go right," Bagnaia added.
"Special thanks to Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall’Igna, Paolo Ciabatti and Davide Tardozzi for their trust, to the Pramac Racing Team who welcomed me like a family and to the VR46 Riders Academy which has always supported me over the years.”
Bagnaia won the Moto2 title in 2018 and is a member of the VR46 Academy. In 23 premier class appearances he’s had had one front-row start, one podium and six top 10 finishes.