VR46 “open” to snaring top MotoGP rider as Academy reserves run low

Valentino Rossi’s outfit has been a presence in the MotoGP paddock for almost a decade, having started out in Moto3 in 2014 before expanding into Moto2 in 2017.

In 2022, VR46 closed down its Moto2 and Moto3 teams to step up to MotoGP as a Ducati satellite squad, fielding Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi.

Despite an offer from Pramac to ride a factory bike next year, Bezzecchi elected to remain with VR46, while Marini has also re-signed for 2024.

VR46 team director Uccio Salucci told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview last weekend at Misano that “hopes my job” with Bezzecchi ends for 2025 and steps up to a factory squad.

“I didn’t want a one [year] or one plus one,” Salucci said when asked if signing Bezzecchi only for 2024 was part of a plan to ensure he gets a factory ride in 2025.

“Some inside the team pushed me for this way, but I didn’t want. I said [I wanted] just one year because I hope that at the end of the next year that Bezzecchi goes onto the factory team and I hope Ducati factory.

“At the end of next year, all the factory contracts stop, and maybe he has a lot of situations.

“I hope he continues with Ducati, because for me it’s the right bike for him. But my job with Marco, I hope, stops at the end of the next year.”

Valentino Rossi, Uccio Salucci, VR46 Racing Team

Valentino Rossi, Uccio Salucci, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Asked if VR46 will remain only for its own riders or if it would be open to signing someone from elsewhere on the grid, Salucci noted the list of Academy members ready to make the step to MotoGP in 2025 isn’t big.

“We are open, because we don’t have any riders from the Academy [ready for MotoGP],” he added.

“We have Celestino Vietti, but the Academy has some new riders but very young. Right now the Academy is working to find young Italian riders and we are close to opening the doors to the Academy for two young riders.

“But really young, like 13, 14 years old. So, they are not even ready for Moto3.

“We need to work with them a couple of years. So, for sure we need to open our doors as a MotoGP team to other riders.”

VR46 will remain with Ducati for 2024, but there have been rumours about a possible Yamaha switch for the following season.

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Salucci said the team is not married to continuing with Ducati, but the Italian marque is its “preference”.

“For sure, my preference now is to stay with Ducati,” Salucci noted. “But the only advantage of the independent team is it’s possible to decide the bike. It’s a big advantage.

“If Yamaha, Aprilia, KTM want to come with us, and the bike is good, for sure we are still open to decide. Now the priority is to stay with Ducati, but you never know in this world.”

VR46 won’t have factory machinery next year, though Salucci explained that this is down to Ducati not having enough time to build a fifth works machine for 2025 given Bezzecchi’s contract was signed in late August.

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