"He's a great talent" - Is Morbidelli destined for Ducati?

With his Yamaha exit official, the Italian is on the hunt for a new ride for 2024 with the Bologna bullets keen admirers

Without doubt, one of the key storylines from the 2023 rider market has been the future of Franco Morbidelli. After much speculation preceding the summer break, the Italian and Monster Energy Yamaha have opted to part ways at the end of the season, with Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) replacing the #21 at the Iwata factory.

It brings a five-year working relationship between both parties to an end, and it begs the question, where next for Franco Morbidelli?

Well, it seems that the most likely destination is Ducati, with some of the key figures behind the scene admitting it is something they would like to see. Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti expressed his admiration for the Yamaha rider when speaking to MotoGP™ Pitlane reporter Jack Appleyard during the British GP.

"I think Franco Morbidelli is in a difficult moment, but he is a great talent. We would like to see Morbidelli on a Ducati next year. We will see what happens in the next few weeks."

It appears the Bologna bullets are looking to shake things up for 2024, and Morbidelli may be part of those plans. The Italian has been linked to one of the VR46 seats, which are currently occupied by Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi, and he himself opened up on the speculation while in Silverstone.

"I don’t know when we’ll know something but for sure the appreciation in general is enjoyed for sure. I’m sure Luca and all the VR46 lot are going to make the perfect job and we are going to choose the right situation to get back to stay there consistently because it’s quite nice."

"It is pleasant to hear that somebody wants you! Even more if it’s from the Ducati squad. Ducati is the best bike. It is no secret. There is no doubt about that. It’s pleasant but I’m focused on riding and doing my best with Yamaha."

The contracts of numerous riders within Ducati’s ranks come to a conclusion at the end of the season and still need to be renewed, while there is also a desire to promote Bezzecchi to a factory bike, with Ciabatti confirming as much.

"At the moment it is no secret that we would like to be able to give Marco Bezzecchi a factory bike, he is having a very good year, winning races. We have to clarify our ideas in order to be able to give him a factory bike next year.

"The decision will not be made between this weekend (at Silverstone), but we will clarify the ideas with the team and the rider to make a decision after Austria."

In order to give Bez one of the four factory machines, it would require the #72 to move up to either Ducati Lenovo Team or Prima Pramac Racing. Francesco Bagnaia is locked into a factory team contract for 2024, while Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) both have 1+1 deals for 2023, with the factory yet to officially exercise their 2024 extensions. However, of all the riders, it seems that Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) is most at risk, with the Frenchman's deal up at the end of the year and rising chatter of a potential switch to LCR Honda, though the #5 has stated his desire to remain on a Ducati. No matter what way you look at it, some tough decisions await the Bologna bullets, as five riders onto four factory bikes simply doesn't go.

Should Bezzecchi get that promotion, it very much opens the door for Morbidelli to once again ride under the VR46 banner aboard the Ducati. As things stand though, it is all speculation but the picture will become a little clearer in the coming weeks.

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