Ducati General Manager Gigi Dall’Igna says the manufacturer can afford to ‘wait a little bit’ before making a decision on who will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aruba.it Ducati team for the 2024 WorldSBK season.
Defending champion and current series leader Bautista quashed rumours of his imminent retirement last time out in Barcelona by confirming he will contest at least one more season with the factory Ducati squad in 2024.
As such, attention is turning towards who will be paired with him, with a number of intriguing candidates - including Axel Bassani and Danilo Petrucci - being lined up to potentially succeed current incumbent Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
However, Dall’Igna was keeping his cards close to his chest when asked by WorldSBK.com about who is in pole position for the seat, adding that it is in an advantageous position with its candidates.
“We don’t know. I think that we are in the position that we can wait a little bit. We don’t have to find a solution because we don’t have a good solution at the moment.
“We are happy and, for sure, we can wait a little bit to understand what happens in reality. Maybe in the middle of the season, we can try to understand if we have to change something or not. At the moment, nothing on the table.”
Ducati's candidates for 2024 WorldSBK seat
Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Chances 6/10]
While he has been a touch unlucky to be paired with Scott Redding and Bautista during his three years on the factory Ducati, Rinaldi has unfortunately found himself cast in the defined ‘second rider’ role, a status not dissimilar to Michel Fabrizio and Davide Giugliano before him.
There have been flashes of fine form, but generally Rinaldi has blown hot and cold, a trait that has continued into 2023. If Dall’Igna is telling the truth then there is time for him to turn it around, but being classified behind Bassani at this stage in the season won’t help…
Axel Bassani [Chances 8/10]
It is credit to young Bassani that he is arguably the favourite for the factory Ducati seat among such esteemed company. In just two seasons he’s blossomed from an unknown racing with possibly the smallest team on the WorldSBK grid to a regular front runner and four-time podium winner, still with possibly the smallest team on the grid.
His youthful exuberance and charisma has made him a fan favourite too, so while his race craft needs some refining, he’d make an excellent understudy to Bautista in 2024 in readiness for team leader status in 2025
Danilo Petrucci [Chances 6/10]
If Danilo Petrucci had scored a podium, or even been classified ahead of Bassani by this stage in the season, he’d be the logical choice for Ducati to promote to a factory seat.
He’s shown promise on the Barni Ducati but while Petrucci’s return to the Ducati factory fold would make a nice story, it would represent a rather ‘mature’ line-up at Aruba.it between himself and Bautista.
Nicolo Bulega [Chances 6/10]
Next-in-line at Ducati - but perhaps not for the full factory seat - Nicolo Bulega has proven himself on the WorldSSP stage as he makes good headway en route towards a potential title win. A good candidate for a Barni or Go Eleven seat.
Scott Redding [Chances 3/10]
There might be a moment where Ducati considers attempting the same trick it had with Bautista by re-signing Redding, not least because his current perch at BMW looks very under threat… however, it’ll be a passing thought at most.
Franco Morbidelli [Chances 6/10]
Depending on what Yamaha decides to do with its second MotoGP seat alongside Fabio Quartararo for 2024, Franco Morbidelli would make an attractive proposition for Ducati, the Italian’s calibre certainly that of Bautista’s, if not greater. Perhaps more likely to remain in MotoGP though, with Yamaha or otherwise.
Fabio di Giannantonio [Chances 5/10]
Another rider whose seat is under threat for 2024, Fabio di Giannantonio hasn’t sparkled on the Gresini Ducati since his debut in 2022 but has shown solid progression to warrant a competitive chance elsewhere. A factory Ducati ride in WorldSBK would do that, but it’s worth pointing out he is contracted to Gresini, not Ducati, right now.
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