Johann Zarco has been confirmed as the final piece of the MotoGP puzzle. The Avintia Racing Team have announced that Zarco will be riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 for them in 2020.
The press release brings to an end weeks of speculation about the future of the Frenchman. Rumors of a move to Ducati had first come at Valencia, then been fueled further by the news that Karel Abraham had been sacked by Avintia. Zarco then told French journalist Michel Turco that he would be racing for Avintia in an interview for the magazine Moto Revue last week.
There had been some skepticism around the move, after Zarco had told reporters he only wanted to ride for a top team, and had described Avintia as 'not a top team'. But Ducati have offered extra support and guarantees to both Avintia and Zarco to make the agreement possible.
Zarco has signed a contract directly with Ducati, rather than with the team, guaranteeing him better support. In the press release, Avintia state that they will have more support from Ducati, with two electronics engineers and two track engineers from Ducati joining the team.
That is also beneficial for Ducati, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna told Israeli journalist Tammy Gorali. Avintia's status as perennial backmarkers did not make Ducati look good, so having what Ducati can hope is a very strong rider in the team should help lift the level of the team's achievements.
The loss of Abraham, who brought money and sponsorship to the team, could pose a problem for Avintia. With Zarco signed for Ducati directly, that should relieve the strain on Avintia, as Ducati will be supporting the Frenchman with equipment. Zarco also has the backing of French GP promoter Claude Michy, and as a consequnce, Dorna, which has a lucrative TV contract with French broadcaster Canal+. That is likely to see extra support for Zarco and the team coming from the organizers as well.
Zarco is currently recovering from the ankle injury he sustained at the final race of 2019 at Valencia. He should be fit in time for the first test of 2020 at Sepang in early February.
The press release from Avintia appears below:
Johann Zarco, new rider of the Reale Avintia Racing Team
The Reale Avintia Racing Team is pleased to announce that Johann Zarco will be the rider to race with Tito Rabat at the next MotoGP World Championship in 2020. The Ducati satellite team will be joined by two track engineers and two Ducati Corse electronics that will follow the activity of the two riders of the Demosedici GP19 throughout the coming season. Zarco, two-time Moto2 World Champion, has signed a one-year agreement directly with Ducati and will be on track for the next season for the first time in the winter tests scheduled at Sepang from 7 to 9 February.
Raúl Romero, owner of the Reale Avintia Racing Team:
“I am really happy and excited with the arrival of a great rider like Johann Zarco to our team from the hand of Ducati. This further strengthens the growth of the team after extending the contract with the Manufacter of Borgo Panigale, making a leap of quality in terms of material by becoming a satellite team. All this package will allow to reflect in the circuits the effort of the structure in the last years. We hope to see Johann and Tito assiduously in the top ten and become a reference team soon. Finally, we would like to thank all our sponsors for their efforts in recent years, without them this would not have been possible.”
Johann Zarco has commented on his new challenge:
“I am very pleased to officially announce my signature with Ducati for 2020 season in MotoGP category racing 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!”