The MotoGP paddock may be waiting with bated breath for Marc Marquez to reveal his plans for the future but it’s over in WorldSBK where we might well have found conclusive proof that the six-time MotoGP World Champion is Gresini Ducati bound for 2024.
Rumours that Marquez will curtail his long-held relationship with Honda in favour of a move to the privateer Ducati team - where he would join forces with his brother Alex Marquez - have circulated for a few weeks.
The Spaniard himself is giving very little away at this stage, though both his improved form on the Repsol Honda and his positive mood off it appears to suggest a weight has been lifted and a decision made.
Trusted sources within the MotoGP paddock say it is already a done deal, while the absence of any talk whatsoever from Honda about Marquez’s future during its home Japanese MotoGP would also suggest it is keeping its head down as it prepares to bid farewell to its talisman.
However, arguably the best indication of an impending move for Marquez can be found back across to Europe in Portimao, where WorldSBK is competing this weekend.
Indeed, Marquez’s ‘will he, won’t he’ saga has trickled down to the WorldSBK paddock, where his decision will have rippling effects on the remaining seats available for next year.
Should Marquez leave for Gresini, then it’s an open secret that Iker Lecuona, currently riding the Team HRC Honda CBR1000RR-R, will be nominated for a return to MotoGP.
The former Tech3 KTM rider has already dovetailed his commitments in WorldSBK with several starts in MotoGP this year deputising for various injured Honda riders and has been praised for his technical feedback to engineers.
Lecuona would therefore take up a place in the LCR Honda team, despite the Monegasque effort having already announced its line-up of Johann Zarco and Takaaki Nakagami. However, Zarco would almost certainly be promoted into the Repsol Honda squad alongside Joan Mir to take Marquez’s place, thus opening up a spot for Lecuona at LCR.
All well and good, so how can we be fairly certain Marquez is off to Gresini Ducati?
Well, when Michael Ruben Rinaldi - who has already been identified as Honda’s replacement for Lecuona if he does leave - was asked about his future, his response of ‘Yes, f***ing yes!’ to WorldSBK.com would appear to suggest he has no worries about being unemployed for 2024.
So… read into that what you will!