MotoGP: Johann Zarco leaves KTM! | MotoGP | Messages

Johann Zarco faces an uncertain MotoGP future after the shocking announcement that he will leave the factory KTM team after the first season of a two-year contract.

The Frenchman, who took six podiums and four poles at Tech3 Yamaha with his sleek style, struggled to adapt to the aggressive nature of the RC16 with a top tenth finish.

There was also tension over whether Zarco should adapt more to the KTM or change the KTM to match Zarco’s strengths.

Either way, the 29-year-old recalled his talents by taking the front row of the plant in damp conditions earlier this month in Brno and few expected his two-year contract to be terminated early – not least because almost all MotoGP 2020 seats are already available.

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“Johann Zarco and Red Bull KTM will not conclude the second season of a two-year agreement together in 2020. The former Moto2 world champion and the works team have mutually agreed to end his stay in Orange at the end of the 2019 season.” said a KTM statement.

‘The 29-year-old came to KTM at the end of 2018 after his second term in MotoGP and for his first with full factory support. Zarco tried to adapt his riding style to the KTM RC16 and the team tried tirelessly to adapt the # 5 machine to the Frenchman’s wishes and demands, while teammate Pol Espargaro competed regularly in Q2 qualifiers and persevered for the top ten finishes fought.

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“Ultimately, both Johann and the team decided not to continue their joint project for 2020 and will now focus on giving the maximum for the last eight laps and the remaining months of MotoGP 2019.”

But it seems to have been Zarco who requested the early separation from KTM and there were even doubts as to whether he would end the current season.

“If Zarco stops, test rider Mika Kallio will take his place until the end of the season,” KTM board member Hubert Trunkenpolz told

As a two-time Moto2 world champion, Zarco’s subsequent Tech3 success meant he had interest from almost all factories for 2019 and his signature (influenced by former manager Laurent Fellon) was seen as some kind of coup for KTM.

It’s not clear if Zarco has alternative plans for next season, but on paper there are only two spots available in MotoGP; Takaaki Nakagami’s place at LCR Honda and Jack Miller’s place at Pramac Ducati. However, there are still many top world superbike rides to be won.

In terms of Zarco’s replacement at KTM, Miller would have been the obvious choice given recent rumors about Jorge Lorenzo and Pramac, as well as the Australian’s previous KTM connections in Moto3.

But Miller sounds confident he’ll keep the Desmosedici ride now. Likewise, Lorenzo appears to be sticking with Repsol Honda.

Trunkenpolz said he would really like to see the new KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa come out of retirement.

“My preferred solution would be a driver duo made up of Pol Espargaró and Dani Pedrosa,” he told Speedweek. “But Dani has signed a test driver contract and explicitly stated that he is not available for racing. Still, we will definitely ask him again because we have a new situation. But the decision is up to Dani Answers. “

It seems unlikely that Pedrosa will want to race again, so could KTM promote formidable Tech3 rookie Miguel Oliveira to established team leader Espargaro instead?

The Portuguese is ahead of Zarco in the World Championship and although he was confirmed to remain in the French satellite squad in 2020, his contract runs directly with KTM.

If Oliveira moves, a seat next to Tech3 rookie 2020 Brad Binder would remain.

Moto2 title leader Alex Marquez has yet to sign but may be wary of the RC16, while players like Marcel Schrotter and Xavi Vierge could also be attractive to Tech3 / KTM. Most Moto2 riders have a contract clause that allows them to leave when a MotoGP ride becomes available.

The Zarco split is the second big KTM news in as many days after the factory announced a withdrawal from the Moto2 class on Sunday.

In contrast to Zarco’s woes, Espargaro is currently tenth in the world championship and has already collected more points than in any other KTM season before. He also has almost three times as many points as Zarco.

As part of the KTM project since its debut in 2017, Espargaro took the team’s first podium in the rain in Valencia last year and is currently tenth in the world championship. Oliveira is 15th, Zarco 17th and Hafizh Syahrin 25th. Syahrin will lose his Tech3 seat to Binder.

In the constructors’ championship, KTM is 22 points ahead of Aprilia, which is the only other manufacturer to receive technical concessions.