Gresini Racing team manager Nadia Padovani has revealed her shock at securing the signature of six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez for the 2024 season, adding that he has a shot at winning this year’s title.
Marquez switches allegiance from Honda to Ducati this season as part of the satellite Gresini Racing squad, the eight-time Grand Prix World Champion - one of the most successful riders of all-time - slated to ride a year-old Ducati GP23 alongside his brother Alex Marquez.
Considered one of the biggest coup signings in Grand Prix history, Padovani - who has headed up the team founded by late husband Fausto Gresini since it reverted from Aprilia partner to an independent entity in 2021 - admits she didn’t expect to succeed in luring Marquez to the Italian squad.
"You expect God knows what from someone who has won so much, but it was the exact opposite of the case,” she told La Gazetta dello Sport.
“He was even a little excited and couldn't wait to get on the Ducati for the first time. I believe that all riders have this nervousness in common when they start a new adventure.
With this in mind, she reveals how excited she was at seeing Marquez’s positive reaction immediately after testing the Ducati GP23 for the first time during November’s post-season test at Jerez.
"I was in the box and waited for Marc to take off the helmet," said Padovani. "I wanted to see his first reaction - and when I saw this smile, I said to myself: 'Okay, that fits.'”
With the 59-time race winner turning heads with his run to the fourth fastest time straight out of the box in Spain, while Padovani isn’t dismissing the strength of the opposition based on this year’s championship, she is convinced a rider of Marquez’s calibre will be in contention for the title.
"Win the World Championship? I don't know that, but fighting for it, that's what I expect from someone like him," she continues.
"It is clear that Pecco Bagnaia is a very strong rider who has the motorcycle working well and has developed strongly in the past few years. Jorge Martin is another rider on the level, he rides the Ducati in a spectacular way.
“Marco Bezzecchi is also developing well and quickly. That's why I would say that it is not obvious he will win the World Championship, but we will try,"