Rumors of Zarco willing to leave Tech 3 Yamaha for another team started spreading from Nov last year. It was not until recently when Zarco and Red Bull KTM started talking, and the probability of the French rider getting onboard KTM went up. And now it is official.
Red Bull KTM has officially declared that it has signed a two-year contract with the 27-year-old Johann Zarco. He will be racing on an RC16 for 2019 and 2020 season. Zarco had tremendous potential and talent which he has already shown. Since he has joined the Tech 3 Yamaha in last season, he has won four podiums and three pole positions.
Speaking of hiring Zarco, KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer, said, “There has always been a good contact with Johann since the Red Bull Rookies Cup. We supported the Moto2 project through WP and our Moto3 Team Manager Aki Ajo is a good friend of him. We also have a nice connection with his manager Laurent Fellon.”
He further added, “It was a group effort to get this done. We had to trust in our capability to build a winning bike and Johann would not come over if he did not see and feel that trust. We feel very responsible now to get that package strong enough so that he can continue on the level where he is. It is our big target.”
It was also out in the open that Suzuki and Honda were also interested in signing a deal with Zarco. However, Suzuki went ahead with Alex Rins last year, and joining Honda would mean getting the seat number 2 alongside the reigning world champion Marc Marquez.
Considering these facts, Zarco finally signed the papers with Red Bull KTM. He will be sharing the pit with his teammate Pol Espargaro, who has just extended his contract by two years. It will be Bradley Smith who will be left out from the next season.
Pit Beirer also said, “It is clear that we want to take another step in MotoGP. The first two years were about building up the project and to get everything running. You always want to get the best possible riders on board and it’s obvious with Johann beating the factory guys on satellite machinery and consistently qualifying on the front row means he is a strong fighter with a strong spirit. I’m convinced we can reach the next level with a rider like Johann with us.”