KTM has called the trust shown by Johann Zarco in their plans for MotoGP “a big honour” after months of speculation regarding the Frenchman’s future were put to bed at Jerez, with an announcement confirming he will ride for the Austrian factory alongside Pol Espargaro in 2019 and ’20.
Pit Beirer, KTM’s Motorsport Director, described Zarco’s attitude as “refreshing”, and believes his promise to nurture the “family feeling” in the factory team was key to attaining the double Moto2 world champion’s signature. “It was really one of the highlights of my management career talking to him,” said Beirer.
Not that the German, who also oversees KTM’s extensive off-road programme, feels Zarco’s signing alone will propel the quickly developing RC16 to the front of the class. Time and again he reiterated the need for KTM “to lift our project to his level,” while stating he feels pressure not to “destroy [Zarco’s] career.”
“If you just look at the ranking, he [Zarco] is now riding at a level where we have never been,” Beirer told Crash.net. “It’s one thing to sign a guy like him; another thing much more difficult is also to be a partner that means he can stay at that level. It’s clear at the moment: we need to make another step forward and be a good partner for him.