MotoGP

Karel Abraham axed by Avintia Ducati, Johann Zarco set to replace

Karel Abraham reveals he has been dropped by the Avintia Ducati team for the 2020 MotoGP season as Johann Zarco waits in wings to replace him

Karel Abraham has announced he is leaving MotoGP after being axed by the Avintia Ducati team, paving the way for Johann Zarco to assume his spot in the satellite team.

The Czech rider was midway through a two-year deal with the privateer Spanish outfit but rumours surfaced over the Valencia MotoGP finale his seat could be assumed by Zarco after he himself was snubbed for the available Repsol Honda team alongside Marc Marquez.

As such, when it became apparent this week that Abraham was still negotiating terms with Avintia for next season, it’s seemingly prompted Ducati to use the opportunity to remove him in favour of the available Zarco.

It’s another late twist in the tale of Zarco’s 2019 MotoGP campaign, which began at KTM before parting ways before the end of the year. He then returned to the track with LCR Honda in place of the injured Takaaki Nakagami, making him the early favourite to replace Jorge Lorenzo at Repsol Honda.

However, when that move failed to materialise, Zarco was instead linked to Avintia, even if he at the time said it wasn’t an option because it ‘wasn’t a top team’

What has made Johann Zarco change his mind?

It’s quite the turnaround for Zarco after casually dismissing Avintia Ducati as an option when it was put to him, saying he’d rather head to Moto2. And yet, here we are.

While Zarco is perhaps correct in his assessment of the Avintia team, which is easily the smallest on the grid, it has been upgraded to official ‘satellite’ status for MotoGP 2020 and will get a pair of factory-spec Ducati GP19s next year.

This has been made possible by Ducati’s decision to supply four GP20s between its factory and Pramac teams in 2020, meaning Avintia won’t need to pay for its supply to help it balance its books more easily.

As for Abraham, this has been an acrimonious split involving one of the more likeable riders on the grid. However, while his wealthy background – relative to his results – certainly made him attractive when it came to purchasing its Ducatis, with this expense removed he fell out of favour.

Moreover, it’s reasonable to think Ducati is shifting more resources towards Avintia in order to get Zarco on its books.

He’s been a one-man silly season but Zarco appears to have finally found a home for the 2020 MotoGP season.

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