Ducati set to run eight bikes for 2022 MotoGP as Gresini, VR46 close on deals

The 2022 MotoGP grid is set to grow to at least 24 entries, eight of which will be Ducati machinery amid talk of a deal to supply VR46 and Gresini

Luca Marini - VR46 Sky Racing Ducati Avintia

Ducati is set to command a huge presence on the 2022 MotoGP World Championship grid as it prepares to welcome Gresini Racing into the fold, together with the graduating Valentino Rossi-owned VR46 Racing team.

Earlier this month Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti hinted that the manufacturer would be prepared to swell its entry number from six to eight bikes. Of these, two would be entered by the factory Ducati Corse team, plus two from the official satellite arm, Pramac Racing.

Having been upgraded from privateer to second string satellite effort - which means Ducati supplies its equipment rather than sells it at a cost - Avintia Racing is expected to bow out of MotoGP and transfer its entry to VR46.

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The Rossi-helmed squad has long been expected to step up to MotoGP having tasted title success in Moto2 with Pecco Bagnaia, though it has been unclear whether it would pursue the route of assuming Avintia’s Ducati-utilised entries or whether to make the most of Rossi’s Yamaha connections.

However, with VR46 already a significant presence on one of Avintia’s bikes via its personal backing of rider Luca Marini, a deal to stick with Ducati is reportedly already signed. 

Moreover, it appears now that it will be joined by a fresh - albeit well-known - counterpart in Gresini Racing, which confirmed its place on the 2022 grid months ago to confirm its split from running the factory-supported Aprilia programme. 

With Aprilia taking its entry in-house at Noale from 2022 onwards, it was anticipated Gresini Racing would switch to running the RS-GP in a satellite capacity. However, in the wake of Fausto Gresini’s death over the winter after contracting COVID-19, Gresini is pursuing a fresh start for what would be its first Ducati endeavour having run Yamaha and Honda machinery prior to Aprilia.

What isn’t so clear is where VR46 or Gresini will feature in the Ducati hierarchy, namely whether they will be privateer efforts or be classed as a satellite teams.

As for riders, Marini would almost certainly stay with VR46, with Moto2 title contender Marco Bezzecchi tipped for the second seat. 

For Gresini, Enea Bastianini - who has a contract with the Ducati factory - would likely find himself with Gresini, alongside Fabio Di Giannantonio, who is believed to have a pre-contract signed with the Italian team. 

It also means the MotoGP grid will swell to at least 24 bikes in 2022.