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Zarco to leave KTM after single MotoGP season

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Zarco to leave KTM after single MotoGP season
By:
Aug 12, 2019, 6:49 AM

KTM has announced Johann Zarco will leave its MotoGP outfit at the end of 2019, and will thus not see out his current two-year contract.

The Austrian manufacturer signed two-time Moto2 champion Zarco after he broke onto the premier-class scene with impressive form on Tech 3-run satellite Yamaha machinery in 2017 and 2018.

However, Zarco has been unable to replicate that form with the KTM RC16, having so far scored just 22 points to his teammate Pol Espargaro's 61.

The Frenchman's performances and approach had been criticised by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, and while the recent addition of new manager and rider coach Jean-Michel Bayle was aimed at improving the situation, Zarco and KTM have now decided not to proceed together past the current season.

"Zarco tried to adapt his riding style to the KTM RC16 and the team tried relentlessly to mould the #5 machine to the Frenchman’s wishes and requirements while teammate Pol Espargaro made regular Q2 qualification appearances and persistently vied for top 10 positions," KTM's statement read.

"Ultimately both Johann and the team decided not to proceed with their joint project for 2020 and will now focus on giving the maximum for the final eight rounds and remaining months of MotoGP 2019."

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Pierer had confirmed to Speedweek during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that Zarco requested an early termination of the deal, although it hadn't been clear to KTM whether the Frenchman would like to see out the season - with Pierer naming test rider Mika Kallio as a back-up option.

It has yet to be confirmed who will take Zarco's ride for 2020, although Tech 3 rookie Miguel Oliveira - who finished a standout eighth at the Red Bull Ring - appears the most obvious option.

KTM is also believed to have considered Jack Miller, who officially remains a free agent for 2020 and whose future was briefly left in limbo when Jorge Lorenzo emerged as a contender to replace him at Pramac Ducati next year.

However, Lorenzo is understood to have decided against pursuing such a move, and Miller indicated to Motorsport.com on Sunday that his Pramac future was now nearly firmed up, and that he would continue to ride a factory-spec Ducati for the satellite team next year.

Johann Zarco, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Johann Zarco, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

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About this article

Series MotoGP
Drivers Johann Zarco
Teams Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy