VR46 Racing has revealed it is being courted by other manufacturers as it mulls whether to remain a Ducati partner or deviate to a different brand for the 2025 MotoGP season.
The team - founded and owned by Valentino Rossi - entered MotoGP in 2022 after assuming the grid entry and structure of the outgoing Avintia Racing team.
A World Championship-winning set-up in Moto2, VR46 Racing has quickly established itself as a MotoGP powerhouse with Marco Bezzecchi winning three main grands prix en route to third overall in 2023.
However, the upcoming 2024 MotoGP season is its final year within its current agreement with Ducati - which supplies year-old Desmosedicis - raising speculation it could gravitate to another manufacturer able to offer the team current-spec machinery.
Front of the queue is understood to be Yamaha, which has been closely-linked with VR46 Racing by virtue of its close association with brand ambassador Rossi.
The Italian himself has spoken of a desire to work with Yamaha - which has been without a satellite team since RNF Racing defected to Aprilia in 2023 - again but has resisted making a commitment on the back of the manufacturer’s indifferent form relative to Ducati at this current time.
As it stands, Rossi is expected to wait and see whether Yamaha produce a more competitive package for 2024 before making a decision, though at ground level, VR46 Racing’s day-to-day team bosses Alessio Salucci and Pablo Nieto have indicated a preference with staying aligned with Ducati.
“Last year we had almost the perfect season, we were fighting for the championship, so we have to be very happy about that,” Nieto told the official MotoGP website.
“We have to think about this year, it is important to see the difference between the bikes of 2022 and 2023. We thought itr was not much but the difference is actually bigger, but the potential is bigger than last year.
“It is true our contract ends this season, but we have the option of two more years with Ducati which is clear, but it is true other manufacturers have contacted us.
“But that is a good for us because it shows we are doing a good job, when so many manufacturers come to you and we are able to listen to that, but our aim is to continue with Ducati.”
Are other manufacturers interested in poaching VR46 Racing?
While talk of Yamaha agreeing a deal with VR46 Racing has raged for some time, Nieto’s comments suggest more than one manufacturer is courting the Italian team.
Of the remaining three brand, it is known KTM is actively trying to get a third team on the grid alongside its factory effort and associated GasGas entry.
The Austrian team has been vocal about its displeasure that Ducati has a stronghold in terms of numbers with eight bikes on the grid, so a KTM entry with VR46 Racing - possibly under the Husqvarna or CFMoto brands - would help redress the balance.
Its bid would be motivated by Dorna’s insistence that it will only expand the grid again (in effect reassign Suzuki’s vacant entry slots) to a new manufacturer entering and has already turned down KTM’s application more than once.
Since VR46 Racing already has grid slots, KTM could utilise this to get around Dorna's rejection, but it's unlikely the team would switch to a third-string role with another manufacturer.