MotoGP

Bad to worse: Zarco takes out KTM team-mate after quit bombshell

Just two weeks' after confirming his KTM exit after just six months, Johann Zarco piles on the misery by taking out his brand team-mate Miguel Oliveira at Silverstone

UPDATE: Miguel Oliveira is forced to miss this week's Misano MotoGP test due to injuries sustained in his collision with Zarco

What’s the biggest cardinal sin in motorsport? Do not take out your team-mate! 

Even if they are your biggest rival, when you ride for one of the largest manufacturers in the world, don’t make it so its branding is being watched skating sideways off track (x2) because of an overtake attempt that never seemed likely.

With this in mind, Johann Zarco has some atoning to do in the wake of the British MotoGP after his rather blunt attempt to overtake fellow KTM rider Miguel Oliveira at Silverstone instead saw them both come down and retire.

Zarco was following the Portuguese rider – who rides the satellite Tech 3 RC16 – when he attempted to slot up the inside at Turn 14, only to make contact, taking them both down and out. Watch the incident here: 

It comes just two weeks after Zarco – regarded as a future MotoGP champion in some circles after two strong seasons with Tech 3 Yamaha – announced he has worked a way out of his KTM contract after six months due to his discomfort with the bike.

Ironically, Oliveira is the favourite to assume his seat on the factory machine in 2020, while Zarco is out of a ride and probably heading back to the Moto2 series he has already won twice. It was revaled at Silverstone that KTM attempted to sign Jack Miller alongside Pol Espargaro for 2020 during the Austrian MotoGP weekend.

Will Johann Zarco see out the 2019 MotoGP season?

The fact KTM mentioned test rider Mika Kallio is on standby to replace Zarco before the end of the year in its official communication suggests this exact premise in definitely on the cards.

It has been a miserable few months for Zarco, who has never found his sweet spot on the KTM RC16, prompting the manufacturer to call his form ‘unacceptable’ in retaliation for the Frenchman’s persistently negative talk of the bike.

Indeed, the eventual split confirmation seemed a relief for both parties, but this latest Zarco-related KTM bad news is unlikely to endear him any further. Indeed, it could well accelerate the exit procedure.

The Oliveira factor is also an interesting one. Zarco has repeatedly dismissed his lack of form as being too much down to the bike being difficult to adapt to but rookie Oliveira is now regularly out-performing him and was at Silverstone on the back of an eighth-place finish on KTM’s home soil in Austria.

It also doesn’t help that Zarco called it a ‘racing incident’ – and squeezed in another dig at ‘slow’ KTM - despite stewards disagreeing and handing him a three-place grid penalty for the next event at Misano.

“I think it was a racing incident,” Zarco said. “Coming to Turn 14, I came in and slowed down to make the apex thinking he would see me, he saw me, he told me that he saw me, but a bit too late so he didn’t have enough time to pick up the bike.

“We were so slow so we just touched and crashed. It’s a shame as I did it during practice and it was working, I didn’t have any accidents, but that is the race. Even if it is a racing incident I got a three-place grid penalty for it for Misano but anyway it is part of the game.”

Oliveira nailed the absurdity of the situation though...

"When I saw it was Johann I was a bit disappointed because first of all we share the same brand and it's never good for the project when you see two riders coming together like that, especially for those [point scoring] positions."

Check out the full image sequence here

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