How 24 hours changed the trajectory of Jorge Martin’s MotoGP career

On 30 May, ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, it looked certain that the eventuality everyone was anticipating for 2025 was coming to pass.

Gazzetta dello Sport reported that championship leader Martin would be promoted to the factory Ducati team and the Italian marque was now waiting to get Marc Marquez’s answer on whether he would race for Pramac on a factory GP25.

When Marquez faced the media and told them that Pramac was “not an option”, it turned the situation on its head. The eight-time world champion’s demands were a factory bike at Gresini or the factory team, or he walks away altogether.

Given the talent of Marquez, how quickly he has adapted to the Ducati in 2024, as well as his marketing might, the Bologna-based marque’s bosses had a dilemma on its hands.

The resolution was to make a U-turn on its initial decision, informing Martin on Sunday afternoon at Mugello that Marquez will be getting the factory seat instead. And so he entered the rider market and Aprilia’s race office.

“As I always said to you if someone asked me, since Aleix [Espargaro] decided to retire we started speaking to everybody,” Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola said on Monday after the Mugello test where Martin’s signing was announced.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing.

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The strategy was quite clear not to do it in the first move, because we didn’t want to do any gift to anyone. But when we felt there was an opportunity, and actually it was last night, we were quite quick in making action rather than talks.

“We found a deal very, very quickly. I have to thank Aleix for that as well and here we are.”

He added: “I think timing was a factor, because really we were very fast. Last night I called my boss and I said ‘we have a chance’, and he said ‘get him, go for it’ and I did.

“So, we have all the team, the legal guys working during the night to get it done, and I don’t know if it’s based on emotion, but I liked to think the choice of Jorge is done because Aprilia did a persistent growth over the years.

“We are the only one so far who has won races, as an alternative to his current bike. So, it’s another item of the puzzle to fix.”

Rain hit the post-race test at Mugello, which led to Martin electing not to turn any laps. While others wobbled around in the conditions, he was sat warm and dry in Rivola’s office putting pen to paper. While this was going on, broke the news that Martin was walking away from Ducati and Marquez was getting the factory nod.

This is a major moment in Aprilia’s story. When it returned to MotoGP in 2015 after a fruitless stint earlier in the four-stroke era that concluded in 2004, it was firmly a backmarker. It wasn’t until 2021 that Aleix Espargaro – who joined the project in 2017 – got the RS-GP its first podium.

Aprilia found itself scrambling for riders coming into 2020, after Andrea Iannone was hit with a doping ban. The signing of Maverick Vinales midway through 2021 represented a turn in fortunes, but the Spaniard’s MotoGP career hung by a thread after an acrimonious split with Yamaha – who won the championship that year with Fabio Quartararo.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia, winning races in 2022, 2023 and 2024, can now confidently cast its net wide for top talent in MotoGP. And they don’t come much better than Martin. He leads the standings by 18 points, having won two GPs and is racing at a 24-point per round pace in 2024.

“I remember when we had in 2020 the issue to find a rider, and it was very difficult to find a rider,” Rivola noted.

“And now I had a long list of managers knocking on my door. And that’s for sure the satisfaction of the company, that work in a proper way.”

Rivola also noted there were conversations with Marc Marquez about 2024. But now Martin is locked down on a multi-year deal – with help from Espargaro offering influence to his young friend – attention now turns to the second seat.

Enea Bastianini, who will be looking for a ride with Marquez taking his seat, had been a favourite in the Aprilia conversation before Martin signed a deal. He is thought to have offers from Aprilia, KTM and Yamaha if it partners with Pramac.

For Rivola, Bastianini cannot be ruled out. But his priority is to keep Vinales, who is yet to commit his future to anyone.

“The priority is to understand what Maverick wants to do with us and then if Maverick wants to stay, I am the first person [to want this] and then there is no place for Enea,” Rivola added.

“But for sure Enea is one of the riders that I’m trying to bring here for a long time. Let’s see, it’s difficult to predict now. I think every one of you in my shoes will have done the same.”

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