OFFICIAL(ish): Johann Zarco, Avintia Ducati complete 2020 MotoGP grid

From Yamaha to KTM to Honda to Ducati, Johann Zarco appears to officially confirm he WILL be an Avintia rider for the 2020 MotoGP season

Johann Zarco - KTM MotoGP

It’s been anticipated for some weeks’ but it seems Johann Zarco has officially formalised his 2020 MotoGP World Championship deal with Avintia Ducati, according to his own social media.

The Frenchman replaces Karel Abraham in the privateer Spanish team and will ride a year-old Ducati GP19 alongside Tito Rabat.

The confirmation came via Zarco’s own social media channels, writing: “I am very pleased to officially announce my signature with Ducati for 2020 season in MotoGP category in the Reale Avintia Racing Team. My left ankle is recovering well, I can enjoy now my winter time having rest with family and training again very soon!”

The confirmation has been a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ after Avintia abruptly severed ties with Abraham amid rumours Ducati had held talks with Zarco to get the double Moto2 World Champion on board after he left KTM and was then frozen out a role at Honda.

The announcement – though not formally revealed by Ducati or Avintia itself – finalises the 2020 MotoGP grid.

Interestingly, Zarco is the driving force behind nearly all rider changes between 2019 and 2020, with his premature KTM exit meaning Brad Binder was promoted from Tech 3 KTM to the factory team, with Iker Lecuona taking his place in the satellite effort.

Alex Marquez is the only other major change, replacing the retired Jorge Lorenzo at Repsol Honda, a ride Zarco was also considered for.

Johann Zarco settles on Ducati despite Avintia misgivings

From Yamaha to KTM to Honda and now to Ducati, Zarco may not be known for his versatility in adapting his riding style to different machines but he’s certainly been busy doing so over the past 18 months or so.

It’s all smiles, hashtags and mentions now but it’s been a somewhat rocky route from Honda to Avintia Ducati for Zarco after he openly stated he’d rather compete in Moto2 than compete with the small, but dedicated privateer Spanish outfit.

Nonetheless, Ducati saw its opportunity to get an accomplished racer on its books – helped by being the only manufacturer to have six bikes at its disposal – and duly won Zarco over with the apparent support of newer machinery and some factory-backed support in 2020, which in turn is likely to lift the Spanish outfit further up the grid.

However, Zarco’s divisive attitude has won him few fans in the paddock, in particular his persistent bemoaning of a KTM package that at the time was performing well in Pol Espargaro’s hands, while his choice comments about the Avintia team – even going as far to say he considers himself a Ducati rider, not an Avintia one – prompted criticism.

Either way, Zarco faces a pivotal 2020 MotoGP season to prove he can be the motivating force to lift the team further up the grid than ever before and show his negative demeanour was for a positive reason.