Zarco's KTM MotoGP exit best for both, says team-mate Espargaro

Pol Espargaro says MotoGP team-mate Johann Zarco's departure from KTM at the end of this season is the "right decision" for both rider and team

Zarco's KTM MotoGP exit best for both, says team-mate Espargaro

Zarco sensationally asked KTM to release him from his two-year deal at the end of the last round in Austria, amid a tough campaign aboard the RC16 that has yielded just one top 10 finish from the first 11 grands prix.

Espargaro said he was aware of Zarco's decision before it was made, and praised his "very brave move", while also acknowledging the split is best given his team-mate's current state of mind.

Asked if he had spoken to Zarco about his decision, Espargaro replied: "Yes a little, he told me he was not having a good time.

"He was not happy and to ride this bike you need to enjoy it. As soon as you are not enjoying it, you are not fast.

"He was not in a good moment, he [was going through] a very bad moment, he was not happy and this was a right decision for both sides.

"But anyway it is very hard and a very brave decision from Johann's side.

"I don't know anybody who has done this before. From both sides, it is a very brave movement."

KTM offered Jack Miller Zarco's seat when it looked like Jorge Lorenzo could take his Pramac Ducati ride - though the Australian has since re-signed with the customer Ducati squad.

Currently, Tech3 KTM rookie Miguel Oliveira is the likely candidate to partner Espargaro, but he is still contracted to Herve Poncharal's squad for 2020.

Commenting on this, Oliveira said his "obligation" is to Tech3 until KTM says otherwise, and that he would not take offence if the second works team KTM went to another rider.

"I know my obligations are with Tech 3 for 2020 at the moment," he said.

"Obviously it was a surprise for everyone to hear Zarco is not taking part in the team next year, he's a great loss for the project, because he's a fantastic rider - not only professionally, but also on the personal side.

"He's in a tough situation at the moment.

"I know this could be an opportunity but it's not up to me to decide.

"My obligations are here [at Tech3] and I will continue to believe that way until they prove to me [it's] the other way around. It's quite simple.

"Since May, I know what I'm doing in 2020, this is my way of thinking.

"This situation is quite new, last week we were all shocked about the news.

"For sure there needs to be some restructuring, but it's not possible in one week.

"We need to wait and see the decisions, but if the decision comes it will be very quick, it will be quite simple."

In the immediate aftermath of Zarco's announcement, KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa moved to quell any speculation he could come out of retirement to take the ride next season.

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Jack Miller turned down KTM MotoGP offer after Johann Zarco's exit

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