Valentino Rossi convinces Bezzecchi to choose VR46 over Pramac for MotoGP 2024

Valentino Rossi has convinced Marco Bezzecchi to remain with the VR46 Racing Team for another season in the MotoGP World Championship.

Marco Bezzecchi, 2023 MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix podium. - Gold and Goose

Marco Bezzecchi will remain at the VR46 Racing Team of Valentino Rossi in 2024, despite the lure of factory Ducati machinery elsewhere.

Ordinarily, the chance to swap year-old machinery for an up-to-date motorcycle would be a straightforward opportunity to take. However, for Marco Bezzecchi it has proved slightly more complicated.

In 2023, his second year in MotoGP, Bezzecchi has won two Grands Prix (in Argentina andMotoGP Dutch TT Results, Race - Serene superiority | Visordown) and a Sprint (in the Netherlands) on a 2022 Ducati. He currently sits third in the MotoGP riders’ standings, 68 points behind championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, on a 2023 Ducati.

Bezzecchi is also six points behind Jorge Martin, who is also on a 2023 Ducati. The difference between Bagnaia and Martin, and arguably the reason for the 62-point gap between them, is the team. 

Whereas Bagnaia rides for the factory Ducati team, Martin rides for the Pramac Racing team. He gets factory bikes and factory ‘support’ but not the factory team Bagnaia enjoys (and that Enea Bastianini apparently does not enjoy). 

The comparatively small gap between Martin and Bezzecchi - both in satellite teams but a year apart in terms of machinery - is arguably proof that, at least at Ducati, the team is more important than the bike, because Bezzecchi is very happy and very comfortable at the VR46 team.

The reason for this is that the #72 has been with the VR46 team since he replaced Nicolo Bulega in the Moto2 setup in 2020. He won all of his intermediate class Grands Prix with VR46; he made his MotoGP debut with VR46; he achieved his first MotoGP pole, podium, GP win, and Sprint win with VR46.

Bezzecchi also became a Grand Prix rider largely thanks to the VR46 Riders Academy, which found him a seat at the CIP Mahindra team for the 2017 Moto3 World Championship. The next year, Bezzecchi won three Grands Prix and challenged the aforementioned Martin for the Moto3 title.  

As a result of his past, and his path into, and through the ranks of, Grand Prix racing, Bezzecchi has developed an affinity for, and a loyalty towards, the VR46 organisation which now fields the VR46 Racing Team in MotoGP.

For 2024, Ducati’s desire has been publicly known to be to have Bezzecchi on a Desmosedici GP24 in the Pramac Racing team, in place of Johann Zarco who will move to LCR Honda next season.

Pramac Racing has won two Grands Prix in its history - both thanks to Martin - which is the same number as Bezzecchi has achieved this year with VR46. 

There are numerous reasons why a rider might change teams but fundamentally the core idea is an improvement of their situation. The improvement might be financial (as is at least partly the case in the aforementioned switch of Zarco to HRC in 2024), or it might be performance-based. Bezzecchi is early enough in his career that money is a secondary requirement to performance - what he wants most is to win.

Since he has proven that he can win races with VR46, the direction of Bezzecchi’s choice between his current team and Pramac is down to whether he thinks he can win more than races, and where he thinks he will have the best chance to do that. 

Obviously, the best chance of winning a championship in MotoGP is by riding for a factory team and, specifically (at least at the moment), the factory Ducati team. A factory team, Pramac is not, just like the VR46 team. Both are satellite outfits.

If Bezzecchi is not going to win a championship at Pramac, then what would be the point in leaving the VR46 team in which he is happy and comfortable? 

Another added point in VR46’s favour is also Matteo Flamigni, Valentino Rossi’s data engineer from 2004 until 2021, and Bezzecchi’s crew chief since Rossi retired and Bezzecchi stepped up to MotoGP last year. As such a long-standing part of Rossi’s team, it is not certain whether Flamigni would want to give up the last 19 years to head to Pramac, and Bezzecchi’s relationship with Flamigni means he is reluctant to leave his crew chief.

If Bezzecchi was offered Enea Bastianini’s seat, the choice for him would be more obvious. You don’t turn down factory rides, because they are your ticket to a title. A factory bike in a satellite team is not that, and that might be why Bezzecchi has chosen to stay with VR46 for the 2024 MotoGP season.

Ducati Monster SP (2023) track review - Silverstone GP circuit on the Monster SP

Ducati Monster SP (2023) track review - Silverstone GP circuit on the Monster SP