“KTM has done it again”- Gardner set for shock MotoGP axe by ruthless KTM

Remy Gardner admits he is on the verge of losing Tech 3 GASGAS seat to Miguel Oliveira as KTM looks set to dump both rookies after just one MotoGP season

Remy Gardner - Tech 3 KTM

Remy Gardner has admitted his prospects of retaining a spot on the 2023 MotoGP World Championship grid are ‘not looking good’ amid talk KTM is closing on a deal to retain Miguel Oliveira in a surprising u-turn.

The 2021 Moto2 World Champion was promoted to KTM’s satellite Tech 3 Racing team for his maiden MotoGP campaign this year, together with the man he beat to the intermediate category title, Raul Fernandez.

However, in a year that has seen KTM struggle for competitiveness, both rookies have struggled for noteworthy results and are currently bringing up the rear in the overall standings with just 14 points between them.

Even so, while Fernandez’s exit has been anticipated for some time, Gardner - with a best finish of 11th in Catalunya - was expected to get a stay of execution for 2023 in the newly-rebranded GASGAS team alongside the incoming Pol Espargaro.

That was until KTM/Pierer Motorsports Director Pit Beirer surprisingly declared over the weekend that ‘there is also still a chance to keep our friend Miguel inside the family’.

A four-time MotoGP race winner with KTM, it is well-known the Austrian firm is keen to retain Oliveira for the 2023 season despite his inconsistent results, albeit shifted from the Factory squad to Tech 3 GASGAS. However, the Portuguese rider has repeatedly spurned such an offer and has instead been strongly linked to the RNF Aprilia team.

Indeed, Beirer’s words came as a shock to Gardner himself, saying on Friday he wasn’t unaware KTM was still in discussions with Oliveira. However, on Sunday, the Australian - son of 1987 500GP World Champion Wayne Gardner - struck a more definitive tone.

“No, it's not [looking great for next year],” Crash.net reports. “In MotoGP, it doesn't look like there's anything… KTM’s done it again!”

Remy Gardner latest victim of KTM’s ruthless management

As Gardner’s final comment there represents, should KTM go ahead and dump Gardner after just one season of MotoGP, he will become the latest victim of a management approach that has stung several riders already.

Indeed, though KTM has only been competing in MotoGP since 2017, a famous fall out with Johann Zarco led the Frenchman to quit just nine months into a two-season deal in 2019, while in 2021 KTM was criticised for pitching Tech 3 riders Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona into an unhealthy inter-team rivalry for the team’s remaining seat alongside Gardner in 2022.

Even then, KTM’s decision to also promote Fernandez led to both riders being axed anyway, with Petrucci only discovering the decision mid-way through a free practice session when a caption appeared on the TV feed as he sat in the pit box.

Ironically, Fernandez at the time seemed unhappy with the new arrangement, which occurred when KTM triggered a clause in his contract so as to ward off attention from Yamaha, while the Spaniard has repeatedly indicated his dissatisfaction with the KTM bosses.

Even so, despite KTM’s form when it comes to rider management, Gardner’s axe comes as something of a shock.

Indeed, while the Australian has indeed struggled for performance relative to fellow Moto2 graduates Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) and Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), he has comfortably out-performed Fernandez and has shown steady improvements over the course of the year.

Moreover, should KTM drop Gardner and send him packing with Fernandez, it would send a concerning message to its famed junior development programme with highly-tipped Pedro Acosta and Adrian Fernandez waiting in the wings too.

KTM to make RNF pay for Fernandez despite split?

Meanwhile, Beirer has confirmed that Fernandez will not remain with KTM for 2023, revealing the Spaniard made his decision way back in May during in Jerez.

“I had a really honest and even nice and friendly talk between Raul, myself, and his manager. That was in Jerez, so in Jerez, he informed us that he will leave,” he told Dorna Simon Crafar on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.

Along with Oliveira, Fernandez is one of the names linked to a seat at RNF Racing, which will switch allegiance from Yamaha to Aprilia for the 2023 MotoGP season. However, despite there being no desire from either Fernandez nor KTM  to come to a new agreement, it is rumoured to be seeking up to €1 million to release him to RNF Racing.

“Since there, it’s just [finding] a formal way to close [the agreement] and how we stop it, but actually from Jerez, he is free to talk to other teams.

“There is no hope or anything that he will stay, but… we will do everything for him to the last race, that’s very clear.”

Should Oliveira turned down KTM’s advances, Gardner’s GASGAS seat may still not be safe with speculation also linking its Moto2 title contender Augusto Fernandez for the ride.