Johann Zarco signs KTM MotoGP deal for 2019

Johann Zarco has been confirmed as KTM's second factory MotoGP rider for the 2019 season, leaving no place for incumbent Bradley Smith in the Austrian marque's works line-up

Johann Zarco signs KTM MotoGP deal for 2019

Tech3 Yamaha rider Zarco has long been a target of KTM, and is understood to have agreed a two-year deal to join the team during last month's Austin race.

"It is clear that we want to take another step in MotoGP," KTM motorsport boss Pit Beirer said.

"The first two years were about building up the project and to get everything running.

"You always want to get the best possible riders on board and it's obvious with Johann beating the factory guys on satellite machinery and consistently qualifying on the front row means he is a strong fighter with a strong spirit.

"I'm convinced we can reach the next level with a rider like Johann with us."

The Frenchman will line up alongside Pol Espargaro, whose contract extension with KTM was announced on Wednesday.

"It was a group effort to get this [the Zarco deal] done," Beirer said.

"We had to trust in our capability to build a winning bike and Johann would not come over if he did not see and feel that trust.

"We feel very responsible now to get that package strong enough so that he can continue on the level where he is. It is our big target."

Zarco's strong form aboard the 2016-spec Yamaha since the start of his rookie season last year made him a target of Honda, which has yet to decide whether it will retain Dani Pedrosa.

Suzuki was also known to be interested in Zarco, but its decision to break off a pre-agreement it had with him in 2016 - and sign Alex Rins instead - counted against it.

KTM's announcement leaves Smith, who has been Espargaro's teammate since the start of 2017, with an uncertain future in MotoGP.

He finished 21st in the standings last year with a best finish of 10th, with his poor performances prompting a mid-season change of crew chief and then igniting speculation he could be replaced by test rider Mika Kallio.

Smith's chances of remaining in MotoGP would appear to hinge on a return to Tech3, where he raced in 2013-16 and finished sixth overall in 2015, or a switch to another independent team.

shares
comments
Rossi backs Lorenzo to recover after tough start to MotoGP season

Previous article

Rossi backs Lorenzo to recover after tough start to MotoGP season

Next article

MotoGP Spain: Smith says losing factory KTM ride 'makes sense'

MotoGP Spain: Smith says losing factory KTM ride 'makes sense'
Load comments

About this article

Series MotoGP
Drivers Johann Zarco
Teams AB Motoracing
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem Plus

How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem

The brutal nature of a series of crashes at Jerez has reopened the debate about whether current MotoGP speeds are beyond the safety limits of the tracks. But even if riders are supportive of the move, getting the manufacturers to find a consensus on how speed reductions should be achieved may be altogether harder

MotoGP
May 4, 2021
How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption Plus

How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption

Jack Miller’s tough start to life as a factory Ducati MotoGP rider left him mentally battered and bruised, but a pep talk and positive reinforcement from a surprising source aided the Australian to show his full potential with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix

MotoGP
May 3, 2021
What does Marc Marquez have to do to get back to his best? Plus

What does Marc Marquez have to do to get back to his best?

Following his resounding MotoGP return with a seventh place finish in Portugal, Marc Marquez now must work to rediscover his best form before turning his attention towards results-based targets

MotoGP
Apr 20, 2021
How Yamaha’s rookie-spec MotoGP star is taking charge Plus

How Yamaha’s rookie-spec MotoGP star is taking charge

Fabio Quartararo is on a roll in 2021, having stormed to victory at a venue where he last year served up one of his worst races. Contrasting Portuguese GPs for Yamaha’s factory duo make it hard to understand just how good its 2021 MotoGP bike is, but the Portimao weekend has revealed one key improvement compared to 2020

MotoGP
Apr 19, 2021
The hurdles Marquez faces next in his Portugal MotoGP return Plus

The hurdles Marquez faces next in his Portugal MotoGP return

Even by Marc Marquez’s own high standards, his MotoGP comeback on Friday at the Portuguese Grand Prix will be considered a success even if he didn’t top the times. But having shown competitive pace on his first day back, both Marquez and his rivals know plenty more challenges are to come

MotoGP
Apr 16, 2021
Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return? Plus

Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return?

Pol Espargaro’s first results as a Honda MotoGP rider may not appear special. But dig a little deeper and a clearer picture of his performance emerges. And, as Lewis Duncan writes, it’s cause for celebration at Honda with the return of Marc Marquez set to provide Espargaro with the reference he has been missing so far this year

MotoGP
Apr 12, 2021
The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons Plus

The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons

MotoGP’s 2021 rookie crop is one of the strongest in recent years, but one is already standing out. Jorge Martin’s Doha GP heroics have courted many to compare him to numerous MotoGP legends. Autosport spoke to Pramac boss Francesco Guidotti to find out why MotoGP’s latest Spanish star is already making such an impact

MotoGP
Apr 9, 2021
Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash Plus

Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash

Despite Suzuki’s decision not to appeal against Race Direction’s refusal to penalise Jack Miller following the incident with Joan Mir in Losail, something must be done to avoid a repeat of such an incident, which could have easily ended in tragedy

MotoGP
Apr 6, 2021