MotoGP: Luca Marini confirms Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati departure

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Luca Marini and the Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati team have confirmed that they will part company following the conclusion of the 2023 MotoGP season on Sunday.

Rumours have been rife for a few weeks now that Marini would make the sensational switch from his half-brother, Valentino Rossi’s team to Repsol Honda for 2024. Rossi departed HRC for Yamaha following the conclusion of the 2003 season.

Marini was one of many riders linked with the seat vacated by Marc Marquez, with Fabio Di Giannantonio, who’s seat has been taken by Marquez, also suggested as a possible replacement. Miguel Oliveira’s name was also thrown into the ring at one stage.

“I spent most of my Championship career in this team, so many of the most significant moments of my career so far are linked to this group of people,” Marini said. “We have grown a lot together and have gained a lot of satisfactions.

“This will be my last race with the Mooney VR46 Racing Team: I thought a lot before making this decision and evaluated the new challenges I will face. I leave behind a fantastic Team that contributed to my growth and knowledge of the technical aspects and complexity that characterise this kind sport. It’s time to embrace a new path with enthusiasm, without denying what has been, but with the eyes focused on the future.”

Marini first joined the VR46 Racing project ahead of the 2018 Moto2 season. That season he finished seventh overall after taking his maiden win at Sepang. The Italian added two more race wins to his CV the following year, in Thailand and Japan, on his way to sixth overall.

Luca Marini onboard the Mooney VR46 Ducati in Valencia

2020 was Marini’s strongest campaign in the Moto2 class as he finished second overall to Enea Bastianini. Marini was leading the championship heading into round 10 at Le Mans, but injured his ankle in a huge highside at La Chapelle. He battled through the pain on race day but finished 17th and wasn’t able to reach the same heights at the first half of the year.

A move to MotoGP followed the team, albeit in Avintia Ducati colours in 2021 and has been consistently improving each year. 2023 has seen Marini claim his first MotoGP podiums, both in Sprint races and Grand Prix races.

“I have really seen Luca grow, since he was a child, then from a motorsport point of view I had the pleasure of seeing him become one of the strongest riders in MotoGP,” Alessio Salucci, Team Director, said.

I’m happy to have shared six beautiful seasons with him in this project. From the first satisfactions in Moto2, the second place in the Championship in 2020, then the debut in MotoGP, the birth of our Team in the Top class and a 2023 where he managed to be a real protagonist.

“Luca is a professional with few equals, a technician, a true passionate enthusiast before being a rider and then a great worker. It is a pity to let him go, he will be a really tough opponent in the future, but an opportunity of this type is too much important not to be considered and I sincerely I wish him, together with the whole Team, the very best of luck.”

Di Giannantonio is the favourite to replace Marini at the VR46 team, however it’s believed the team are also looking at future prospects within Moto2. Rossi is in Valencia for the season finale and, Salucci says that the nine-time World Champion has the final say.