Ex-MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone is due to make his return to international motorcycling competition next year, at the conclusion of his doping ban.
Andrea Iannone will apparently race a satellite Ducati in the 2024 World Superbike Championship, as per an interview published by WorldSBK with Gigi Dall’Igna.
The identity of the team for which Iannone will ride is not yet known. Michael Ruben Rinaldi seems destined to leave the factory Ducati team, where he seems likely to be replaced by Ducati’s current World Supersport points leader Nicolo Bulega.
Rinaldi himself could find a place at one of Ducati’s satellite teams, but room is scarce. Danilo Petrucci is likely to remain at Barni Spark, where this year he has scored multiple podiums in his debut WorldSBK campaign; but the GoEleven seat, currently occupied by Philipp Oettl, and the Motocorsa seat, currently occupied by Axel Bassani, could both become available.
If Bassani were to find a ride outside of Ducati, for example with Honda (from which Iker Lecuona could depart next season if HRC requires his services to fill a gap in its MotoGP roster) or Kawasaki (which could be requiring a replacement for Jonathan Rea), the Bologna brand’s situation could be much more simple.
If, though, Bassani remains put in Motocorsa, one of Iannone and Rinaldi would likely have to be dropped, unless GoEleven fielded a second bike. Of course, this assumes that the concerns for the future of Oettl – who has only scored three top 10s this season – are at the lower end of Ducati’s priorities list.
Iannone has, of course, a previous history with Ducati. He arrived in MotoGP in 2013 as a rookie in the Pramac Racing team. Then, in 2014, when Cal Crutchlow was deciding to leave Ducati at what was his first and only season in red, Iannone was pushed up the priority list for new parts.
In 2015, Ducati fielded its first MotoGP bike to be designed by Dall’Igna, and it also promoted Iannone to the factory team. The next season, after Ducati had signed Jorge Lorenzo for 2017 and 2018, Iannone and his then-teammate Andrea Dovizioso had to battle it out for the remaining seat, which went the way of Dovizioso after Iannone cleaned out the #04 in Argentina, and then cleaned out Lorenzo in Barcelona. Iannone was told he had no future at Ducati, to which he responded with his first MotoGP win, and Ducati’s first since Casey Stoner in the 2010 Australian Grand Prix, in Austria in 2016.
Moves to Suzuki and then Aprilia followed for The Maniac, but his MotoGP career came to an abrupt end towards the closing stages of the 2019 season, when he failed a drugs test. Iannone blamed that on contaminated food, but that excuse did not help, and he received a three-year ban from competition.
That ban ends next year, which prompted numerous rumours to emerge earlier in the year about him returning to racing. That, thanks to Dall’Igna, is now confirmed.