MotoGP

‘Angry, sad’ Karel Abraham hits out at Avintia Ducati axe

Karel Abraham expresses his sadness at being unceremoniously dropped from the Avintia Ducati team in favour of Johann Zarco for the 2020 MotoGP season

Karel Abraham has expressed his ‘anger’ and ‘disappointment’ at being suddenly dropped from his ride at the Avintia Ducati team for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship season, seemingly in favour of Johann Zarco.

The Czech rider revealed he had been axed from the privateer Spanish team during a meet and greet with fans at the Brno Autodrom, home of the Czech MotoGP event.

It comes less than a week after Abraham, amid increasing talk his seat was under threat from Zarco, stated Avintia would need to break its contract with him in order to replace him with the Frenchman.

However, having also admitted he was still negotiating terms with Avintia, it appears the team has taken the opportunistic moment to remove him altogether in favour of Zarco, who is expected to be officially confirmed this week.

“Thank you everyone for the nice words. It made me angry, very disappointed, but especially sad,” Abraham wrote on his Instagram stories. “This is the last video of me on the MotoGP bike. At the time I had no idea I was going to enjoy my last laps on the ‘beast’.”

Abraham’s exit comes despite him trialling the new Ducati GP19 during last week’s test at Valencia alongside Tito Rabat in what was expected to be an unchanged rider line-up for 2020.

A subsequent announcement from Avintia revealed his place in the team will be assumed by Eric Granado for this week’s Jerez MotoGP tests. The Brazilian raced for Avintia in the MotoE World Cup, winning two races, but isn’t considered in the running for the race ride and will be riding the Ducati GP18.

Instead, Zarco – who injured his ankles during Valencia’s race when he was struck by Iker Lecuona’s KTM – will return to action at the next test in Sepang in February.

Karel Abraham ‘retires’ from MotoGP

Though Abraham – whose father owns the Brno Autodrom – and his deep pockets pitch him firmly in the ‘pay rider’ bracket, the Czech rider is a Moto2 race winner and has accumulated 122 MotoGP starts over eight seasons.

Success has been fleeting though with only a best result of seventh place and 15 top tens over that time, while Abraham’s influence was always expected to be lessened by the increasing likelihood the Czech MotoGP round will drop off the calendar after 2020.

Moreover, Avintia Ducati’s upgraded status to official satellite status means it will get its hands on a pair of supplied (not paid for) Ducati GP19 bikes for MotoGP 2020, thus freeing up some flexibility in its resources.

It also had the combined might of Ducati, Dorna and French MotoGP officials in Zarco’s corner when it came to securing him a spot on the grid next year, despite the man himself declaring he wouldn’t move to Avintia because it isn’t a ‘top team’.

However, it appears talks during the Valencia MotoGP tests allayed many of his fears and it’s plausible Zarco will receive some level of Ducati support in 2020 despite competing in the manufacturer’s third string team

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