Johann Zarco confirms Avintia 2020 MotoGP deal… then aims dig at team!

Avintia Ducati may have just saved Johann Zarco and his MotoGP career but the man himself doesn't seem especially pleased to be there!

Johann Zarco - LCR Honda
Johann Zarco - LCR Honda

Johann Zarco is unlikely to endear himself with new employers Avintia Racing by declaring – before his deal for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship has been officially confirmed – that he considers himself to be a Ducati rider, not an Avintia one.

The ‘Johann Zarco’ saga has been a prolonged and twisty affair in 2019, which began with him joining the KTM factory before bemoaning difficulties in adapting to the bike and announcing he’d exit the team prematurely at the end of the season. This was brought forward to September as KTM turned attention to developing its 2020 machine.

After a respectable three-race outing at LCR Honda raised expectations of a move to Repsol Honda in place of the retired Jorge Lorenzo, Zarco was ultimately frozen out by the title-winning team’s decision to sign Alex Marquez.

However, just as a move back to Moto2 was being mooted, Zarco was instead linked with a switch to Avintia Ducati in place of Karel Abraham. Even this hasn’t been a smooth transition, Zarco declaring Avintia as not being ‘top team’ enough for him before seemingly being won around by the promise of some Ducati support.

While the deal itself isn’t officially confirmed, Zarco has told French publication Moto Journal that it is happening. However, he says it was only assurances from Ducati Corse manager Gigi Dall’Igna that convinced him to sign before pointing out that he does not consider to be an Avintia rider.

"It's the fact that Gigi Dall'Igna tells me that I could trust him in deciding to sign for Avintia next year,” he said. “As I still doubted the skills of the team Avintia, I went to see my former head mechanic Massimo Branchini. Massimo told me to trust Gigi. Gig Dall'Igna will take care of finding me a good chief mechanic. 

“Besides, I do not consider that I have signed with Avintia, but with Ducati. My goal for 2020 is to be included no lower than tenth and join the official Ducati team in 2021.”

Tito Rabat Avintia Racing Ducait
Tito Rabat Avintia Racing Ducait

Is Johann Zarco saving face by choosing Avintia after all?

While the words may have been somewhat twisted in translation from mouth to paper, Zarco’s rather blunt dismissal of the team he has just signed for is unlikely to raise morale in the plucky Spanish outfit… nor impress the man that was unexpectedly removed to make way for him, Karel Abraham.

It also sets a somewhat inauspicious precedent for Zarco in that he may feel compelled to be vocal about his 2020 MotoGP machinery if things don’t go his way – much like they did at KTM.

It’s an attitude that has won him few friends already in MotoGP – Aleix Espargaro recently said he was undeserving on the Repsol Honda ride because he is 'unprofessional' – and these latest comments, seemingly unprompted, certainly don’t endear him any further.

To his credit, his presence seems to have prompted some greater involvement from Ducati towards the Avintia effort having upgraded it to an official satellite team for 2020.

While it’s unclear how much the Borgo Panigale brand is involved in Zarco’s machinery directly, it will no doubt be paying closer attention than it has done previously.

Then again, if Zarco doesn’t consider himself to be an Avintia rider, it might need to in order to keep him happy…

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