Johann Zarco to split with KTM MotoGP team for 2020, will complete '19

Johann Zarco will split with the factory KTM team at the end of 2019, the Austrian manufacturer announced this morning,

Rumours have been awash for weeks that the Frenchman would not return to the KTM fold for next year despite having signed a two-year contract when he penned a deal with the squad.

He joined KTM after two successful years with Tech 3 when they were the official Yamaha satellite team, having scored six podiums across his team there, scoring his first in just his fifth MotoGP start.

Zarco has struggled to get to grips with the RC16 and has scored just 18 points compared to team-mate Pol Espargaro’s 61, with a best finish of 10th coming at Barcelona. He qualified a superb third at Brno last weekend in tricky conditions, but fell back to cross the line 14th behind both Espargaro and Tech 3 KTM rookie Miguel Oliveira. 

The appointment of ex-Honda star Dani Pedrosa as test rider was supposed to help tailor the bike towards Zarco as the two have similar riding styles, but little to no progress has been made.

The two-time Moto2 world champion even had a war of words in the press with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer in May after the Austrian publically criticised him by declaring “he isn’t up to it”, after Zarco had openly slammed the bike following a pair of crashes at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

A statement this morning released by KTM explained the decision to split just over half-a-season into the relationship.

“The 29 year old joined KTM towards the end of 2018 after his second term in MotoGP and for his first with full-factory support.

“Zarco tried to adapt his riding style to the KTM RC16 and the team tried relentlessly to mould the #5 machine to the Frenchman’s wishes and requirements while teammate Pol Espargaro made regular Q2 qualification appearances and persistently vied for top ten positions.

“Ultimately both Johann and the team decided not to proceed with their joint project for 2020 and will now focus on giving the maximum for the final eight rounds and remaining months of MotoGP 2019.”