Franco Morbidelli’s torrid time aboard the Factory Yamaha in MotoGP is set to come to an end, as the Italian rider has been snapped up by Pramac Ducati for the 2024 season.
Morbidelli – a prospect of Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy – will ride alongside current championship contender Jorge Martin within the Ducati satellite outfit, with both riders getting their hands on the latest Bologna Bullet available, namely the GP24.
This will bring about an end to Morbidelli’s relationship with Japanese manufacturer Yamaha, with whom he has been placed in the factory set-up since 2021 and Alex Rins is set to take his place.
A year prior to that, Morbidelli finished runner-up in the MotoGP Championship aboard the Petronas Yamaha SRT bike – winning three races.
That was enough to earn the 2017 Moto2 champion a promotion to the factory set up part-way through the 2021 season to replace Maverick Vinales.
However, Morbidelli’s time aboard the factory M1 has been difficult, to say the least.
A knee injury that required surgery and time on the sidelines in 2021 hampered Morbidelli’s progression and for whatever reason the Italian rider has never quite gelled with the Yamaha since.
Compounding matters has been Yamaha’s rapid drop in performance relative to rival machinery, particularly this year, with not only Morbidelli, but his 2021 champion teammate Fabio Quartararo also struggling.
There have been some highlights during Morbidelli’s factory Yamaha tenure though, including an impressive fourth-place finish in Argentina earlier this year.
That, and the class Morbidelli has shown in years gone by is enough for Pramac Ducati to take a chance on him – and the Italian will be able to ride the latest edition of the most competitive package in MotoGP – and those within Pramac and Ducati are delighted to have signed his services.
“I am very happy that Franco is joining our family for 2024,” said Prima Pramac Racing Team Principal Paolo Campinoti in a statement on the team’s website.
“I have an excellent relationship with him, and he has proven to be a champion on many occasions.
“I am confident that in our team, he will find the right conditions to fight for the positions he deserves.”
Prima Pramac Racing Team Manager Gino Borsoi echoed Campinoti’s statement, saying “It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with a champion like Franco.
“I have great confidence in him and his talent.
“I am sure he will feel very comfortable in our team, and together, we will achieve great results.”
The addition of Morbidelli at Pramac means another Grand Prix-winning rider has joined the Ducati ranks and the marque’s General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna is “confident” he will do well on a Desmosedici GP.
“It is a pleasure for us to welcome Franco Morbidelli to our factory-supported Pramac Racing team for the upcoming sports season,” he said.
“Franco is a rider of great talent and experience, and on more than one occasion, he has demonstrated his strength and speed.
“It’s no coincidence that in 2020, he was the MotoGP vice-world champion, winning three Grand Prix races.
“We are confident that, together with the Prima Pramac Racing team and thanks to our support, he will be able to show his full potential. We look forward to embarking on this new exciting adventure together.”
This news means that Gresini is the only Ducati outfit left to settle on its rider lineup for 2024.
Alex Marquez has been confirmed to remain with the Gresini squad next year, but Fabio di Giannantonio looks set to lose his seat with the team, with HRC riders Marc Marquez and Joan Mir rumoured to be interested in riding aboard a Ducati.