Ducati, Pecco Bagnaia close to deal for 2023 MotoGP season

Pecco Bagnaia is closing on a deal to extend his stay at Ducati for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season following his breakthrough 2021 campaign

Pecco Bagnaia - Ducati Corse, 2022 MotoGP

The first piece of the Ducati MotoGP rider line-up puzzle for 2023 is close to being put in place as Pecco Bagnaia nears an agreement to remain with the factory effort next season.

The 2018 Moto2 World Champion has seen his stock soar off the back of a breakthrough 2021 MotoGP campaign, his first as a full factory Ducati Corse rider, Bagnaia landing his maiden victories en route to the runners-up spot behind champion Fabio Quartararo.

Scoring his first success in the Aragon MotoGP after prevailing in a thrilling late-race tussle for the lead with Honda’s Marc Marquez, Bagnaia proceeded to reel off three more victories in the final five events.

It is that upturn in form during the closing stages of the year that has installed Bagnaia as arguably the favourite for the title going into the 2022 MotoGP season, a bid Ducati seems keen to foster by removing doubt about his contract negotiations come the Qatar opener.

“Small details are still missing for the renewal of Bagnaia, the goal is to make the official announcement within the first race of the season in Qatar,” Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told SkySports Italia during the Mandalika MotoGP pre-season test.

Making his MotoGP debut in 2019 at Pramac Racing, Bagnaia initially developed a reputation for errors that negated his flashes of fast form during his first two seasons of MotoGP.

Ending up 15th in 2019 and 16th overall during an injury-affected 2020 campaign, Ducati was hesitant to promote Bagnaia to a factory seat for 2021 but was left with few alternative options when it couldn’t reach an agreement with Andrea Dovizioso.

However, Bagnaia repaid Ducati’s faith by coming of age in 2021, showing consistency and impressive race pace, albeit hampered by indifferent qualifying form. However, during the second-half of the year Bagnaia was the rider to beat, landing six pole positions - surpassing Fabio Quartararo’s benchmark for the year - and ending the year 26 points shy of the title win.

Who will partner Pecco Bagnaia at Ducati for 2023 MotoGP?

Bagnaia’s incoming confirmation at Ducati places further stress on team-mate Jack Miller heading into the opening rounds of the year.

Tipped as a title contender for 2021, Miller was comfortably overshadowed by Bagnaia all year, while Pramac’s Johann Zarco was only eight points shy of overhauling him for fourth in the final standings.

However, it is the highly-regarded Jorge Martin that is expected to pose the greatest threat to Miller’s seat, the Spaniard starring in his rookie campaign with three pole positions and a surprise win in Austria, while Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini is also in the running after headline grabbing performances on the Avintia Racing Ducati.

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