MotoGP

Karel Abraham blasts Avintia’s Ruben Xaus after being fired by email

Karel Abraham reveals he was fired by e-mail and ignored by Avintia Ducati despite given assurances his 2020 MotoGP ride wasn't under threat

More details have emerged about the timeline that led to Karel Abraham being axed by his Avintia Ducati team, with the Czech rider revealing he was fired over email and told to ‘stop communicating’ after days of being ignored when he tried to discover why he’d been let go.

The experienced rider revealed himself over the weekend he wouldn’t be lining up on the 2020 MotoGP World Championship grid with the Spanish outfit despite only being part way through a two-year deal. Johann Zarco set to assume his place in the team.

While speculation has been rife in recent days that Zarco had come to an agreement with Avintia Ducati, Abraham says he had been given assurances that such discussions were not taking place when he was testing with the team less than a week ago.

However, in the run up to this week’s MotoGP test at Jerez he revealed communications with former WorldSBK and MotoGP rider Xaus, who works in Avintia’s team management, began to go cold and when he persisted he received an email in Spanish confirming his contract had in fact been terminated.

In a wide-ranging interview which can be found in full on MotoGP authority website Motomatters.com via Israeli commentator Tammy Gorali, Abraham says he proceeded to be ignored until he pointed out his flights to Jerez were booked and his kit was also at the track before he was informed to not travel and to stop contacting the team.

“We talked in Valencia, and after the rumours with Zarco I went to Ruben again, multiple times actually, and asked what is going on, is it happening or not happening? And on Tuesday – he missed the last day of testing on Wednesday – he confirmed and said don't worry, you have your contract, everything is as it should be.

“I asked if they were talking to Zarco and he said 'No, we are absolutely not talking to Zarco, this is just some rumours, it's not true'.

"So I said OK, I did one day of testing, which was not bad, then I went back home. We texted a couple of times with Ruben, but he did not answer but I did not take it seriously.

"I opened it [the email] and it was in full Spanish, not English or Czech, saying 'Hello Mr Abraham, I am the notary of Esponsorama, these are the documents and paperwork that this is the official notary'. When we put it into a translator, it was quiet clear that it was the termination of our contract. So we texted Ruben again, with 'Hey, what is this?' No answer."

"We texted him multiple times, but we didn't receive any answer from him," he said. "But on the next day, Saturday, I texted him again saying 'Hey, Ruben look, you sent me this Spanish email, I have no idea what is in it and tomorrow I am leaving to Jerez, should I go to Jerez or not?' Only then I received a message saying, 'Correct, it's the termination of the contract, don't come to Jerez, and stop communication with me’.”

"I am disappointed because he was always this kind of friendly guy, he borrowed a car from me, he went with me to the hotel, or in Australia we spent a lot of time together, very friendly. And then he says 'don't talk to me anymore'. So I was like, "Are you serious? You are basically kicking me in the ass after the season is done and while we have a contract, and not even talking to me?'"

Why did Karel Abraham re-open contract negotiations?

While Abraham – whose father owns the Brno Autodrom that hosts the Czech MotoGP – did indeed have a two-year contract in his pocket, he admits negotiations had been re-opened at the end of the 2019 season because he’d withheld payments on his side by a matter of ‘days’ in order to seek assurances for 2020 over technical support.

However, by doing this it seemingly paved the way for Avintia to use it as a catalyst for removing him altogether once it became clear it could instead sign Zarco, who has the benefit of Ducati, Dorna and French MotoGP race promoters working to keep him in a ride after quitting KTM earlier in the year.

Abraham says he felt justified to do this because he felt Avintia hadn’t fulfilled its own contractual obligations but didn’t expect it to be used against him because he was told it wasn’t talking with Zarco.

“There were some payments we were supposed to make for the 2020 season, but we did not pay them and postponed them, not for months, we are talking days. We postponed them because we had some doubts about things happening in the team."

"First of all, we postponed the payments because we did not get what we agreed in the contract, for example the Ohlins guy was missing and many other things happening. So we said hey, we want to talk about the next season before we fully commit. And they said, OK, we will talk in Malaysia, which we did, but there were new issues coming, so we said we will talk one more time in Valencia, and then we will proceed. In Valencia we agreed, we still wanted to do some adjustments so we sent some proposals, but we received no answer but the termination of the contract."

“This is why they said they are kicking us out. Because we didn't pay in time, because we broke the contract, but really, it's not true, because we agreed to have those meetings, and postponed the payments."

“Zarco didn’t like this bike, now he fights for it…”

Though Zarco’s Avintia deal hasn’t been confirmed, Abraham is bemused the Frenchman looks set to take his place after dismissing the outfit as ‘not a top team’ when he was pressed on the rumours during the Valencia MotoGP weekend.

“Zarco left this team [KTM]. He didn’t talk very well about them," Abraham said. "After he didn’t even talk very well about Avintia. Then he fights for it, for Ducati Avintia team. He fights after going out of factory team, after saying bad things about Avintia. This is something that I don’t really understand, but this is the business of Zarco, not mine anymore."

Abraham’s exit appears to be the final twist in a meandering tale for double Moto2 champion Zarco, who began the 2019 MotoGP season with KTM before announcing he would be leaving prematurely amid poor results and an acrimonious relationship with the Austrian manufacturer.

Having ended the season on Honda machinery in place of the injured Takaaki Nakagami, Zarco was linked to Jorge Lorenzo’s vacated Repsol Honda seat only to be snubbed in favour of Alex Marquez.

Proceeding to say he’d rather return to Moto2 than join a team Avintia, it appears Zarco had a change of heart when it became clear it would get a degree of technical support from Ducati as part of its new upgraded ‘official’ satellite status.

As it stands, there has been no word from either party that a deal has formally been agreed but it is expected to be announced in due course.

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