Another Ducati Launch: Karel Abraham And The 2011 Cardion AB Team

While the eyes of the world were on Madonna di Campiglio, the Italian ski resort which hosted Ducati's Wrooom! event, where Valentino Rossi was officially introduced as a Ducati rider, over in the Czech Republic, another Ducati rider was taking center stage. On Wednesday, the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati held their official launch, presenting Karel Abraham as their rider for the 2011 season.

The team was launched with at least as much glitz and glamor as the Marlboro Ducati factory team, and with a huge amount of interest from the local Czech media. This is no doubt in part due to the fact that Karel Abraham's father, Karel senior, is an immensely wealthy businessman, owning the Cardion medical supplies firm, as well as the Brno circuit, but the excitement among Czech fans is genuine enough. Abraham is the first ever Czech rider to race in the MotoGP class, and coming off a surprising strong season in Moto2, including his first ever win at the last race of the 2010 season at Valencia.

Abraham has faced a lot of criticism from some quarters, his detractors claiming that the Czech rider is only in MotoGP because his father can afford to fund the team from his own pocket. While it is undoubtedly true that being able to pay Ducati the lease for the Desmosedici GP11 helps, there is no denying the Czech rider's talent. At the Valencia tests, Abraham impressed those present by posting strong times, ending the second day of the test just 1.7 seconds off fastest man of the test, newly-crowned 2010 MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, and finishing ahead of the reigning Moto2 champion and former MotoGP rider Toni Elias.

Whether Abraham can continue to match the pace of the MotoGP regulars remains to be seen, but the 21-year-old Czech will get his next chance to prove his worth at the Sepang MotoGP tests on February 1st. But whatever the youngster's pace, his father and his team can surely put on a show, as the official team photos of the launch, and a Youtube video sent to us by Gordon Howell of the super-efficient Pole Position Travel company, who run a range of packages to all of the MotoGP and World Superbike events.

Karel Abraham at the launch of the Cardion AB MotoGP team
They know how to put on a show in Brno

Karel Abraham at the launch of the Cardion AB MotoGP team
Abraham appeared looking very trim, and lighter and slimmer than the umbrella girls hired to help with the launch

The Cardion AB MotoGP team's Ducati Desmosedici GP11
The benefits of sponsoring your own team means the bike's design can be cleaner and less busy

Video from the launch:

More photos on the Pole Position Travel website.

Official press release:

Karel Abraham enters MotoGP 

Czech motorcycle rider Karel Abraham is preparing for his first season in the premier class.

Motorcycle Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in colors of the Cardion ab Motoracing team is now ready for the first test which will be held at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia early in February. The second test is then scheduled at the same circuit for the last week of February. "After the second test we could have the first indications of how much we will be successfull this year," estimated Karel Abraham. 

"The bike is much more difficult to control and requires perfect physical fitness," says Abraham after his first experience with the new bike. Due to the move to the MotoGP class team brought in three people from Ducati factory - track engineer Cristhian Pupulin, telemetry analyst Dario Massarin and spare parts technician Michele Bubbolini. "We are very satisfied with the cooperation with Ducati," said team manager Karel Abraham Sr. Marco Grana, Martin Havlicek, Martin Nesvadba, Yannis Maigret, and Pietro Berti who were in the team also previous seasons remained. "All of them are professionals. They are working very well and together they create a great team," added Abraham Sr. 

Karel Abraham completed first official MotoGP test after winning a race in Valencia. During the first day of testing he was 3.064 seconds slower than the fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo but during the second day he lost only 1.727 seconds. „Compared to the last year, rookies Bautista and Barbera were three seconds slower than the fastest riders. Karel lost only 1.7 seconds although Lorenzo was as fast as he was during the race weekend,“ said Abraham Sr.

Karel Abraham will be the first Czech rider in the premier class. He ended last season with a win in the Grand Prix of Valencia and finished 10th in the overall standings of the Moto2 class. "Karel proved that he is a very fast rider. He has a huge potential to do well right from the start of the season. Next year there will be a lot of fast riders in the premier class so it is clear that the competition will be huge. But in Valencia we showed what we are able to do," concluded crew chief of the Cardion ab Motoracing team Marco Grana.

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For some reason I have this feeling he's going to be a lot better than people are predicting. He'll give Crutchlow a legitimate run for the rookie crown.

But I for one am glad he didn't put his money in curling. The Abraham family obviously has a passion for motorcylcle racing, they provide a bike for the thin field and Karel seems to have the talent to run close to the top ten. There is no reason to complain.

I wonder what his times would have been had he been able to hop on a more well known easier bike like a Honda....

Appropriate number, one of only 17 GP bikes on the grid. I do feel that he will end the season better than 17th.Great to see another young gun grace the field.
Detractors he may have, but his test times in Mugello, Valencia and a wet Jerez showed a lot more than many give him credit for.
He's also a very 'physical' rider and no midget. The Ducati suits him and it will show throughout the season. Preziosi alluded to the same thing.
He may not have the greatest credentials in the junior classes,but then again neither did #27 until he got the opporunity,also age 21,to bully the GP Ducati into submission.

I hope Abraham does well, for MotoGP, for the Czech fans and for himself.
At the end of the day he is lucky as he will never have to wonder how he would have gone at the highest level - the opportunity is there.
However only two podiums from 93 races in 125/250/Moto2.
The bike looks nice.

If it is a GP11, its wearing the GP10 bodywork..

Will the satellite Dukes be "cooking" GP11s, GP11/10s or what?

There are better photos on the Pole Position website. On this one, you can clearly see the double side vents, rather than the single on the GP10. 

Yep..You can clearly see the double vents on your link..but the winglets look thinner and slightly different on the works bike launch pics don't you think?
I know we've yet to see what rolls out the box at Sepang1 and this is ground "0" if you like..but could this be one of the differences, as there will be some surely, that seperate factory from satellite?
There again, it may just be my failing peepers!

Does every article about Karel Abraham have to mention the fact that he has a rich dad? Where would Wayne Rainey be without his dad? What about Kevin Schwantz? Kenny Roberts Jr.? Nicky Hayden? Casey Stoner? Valentino Rossi? The list goes on and on.

By my standard of living growing up, all these guys had rich dads.

Poor kids don't usually get motorcycles, and they especially don't get to go racing.

Are you really trying to equate KA's credentials to Rainey, Schwantz & Rossi? PLEASE...there are no less than 20 riders around the world who are more worthy of being in MotoGP than Abraham.

Unlike F1 in previous years, with few exceptions, the most promising & World Championship winnning riders..EARNED...their rides. By no reasonable criteria can anyone say Abraham has shown serious potential. If he had, he wouldn't NEED daddy's money.

MotoGP is for the best of the best & for those riders who have distinguised themselves; a few competitive times at tracks he is comfortable on portend little. I say he'll end the season 16th.

Just because someone's father bought them a m/c & took them to races doesn't qualify them as rich. If that were the standard, 95% of the racers would qualify...Abraham's father bought him a race track, a MotoGP team & no doubt paid Dorna $millions. There is a difference. His entry is about a father's ego, vanity, & national pride; don't delude yourself.

I don't believe Rumerz was comparing credentials, merely making a social comment. The above mentioned are legends, but if you think they could have achieved all they have if from a matriarchal, single parent family on benefit for example, it's you who's kidding himself.
Rich is a relative term..but one thing they all had in common was a supportive father who was prepared to back their ambitions with time and yes, money.
Twenty odd years ago, before the advent of email and when the industry was booming, I had four years skating round the deisel impregnated streets of London as a despatch rider..Ten hours a day in the saddle come rain or shine, I know there's a lot of talent out there that given a different upbringing, could have gone all the way..
How many ghetto kids play world class Tennis or Golf? Conversely, how many RICH kids have been Boxing world champs?
I say give Abraham a chance and judge him on his talent..
and us the pompous rant.

"By no reasonable criteria can anyone say Abraham has shown serious potential. If he had, he wouldn't NEED daddy's money."

Maybe you haven't paid enough attention but he isn't the only one that needed some strings pulled to get to MotoGP. There are many around the world that need daddy's money. Deserve it...well that list isn't quite so large, but there is a list.

What else should every article mention? Karel's statistics, perhaps?

2010 Moto 2
14 28 DNF 17 DNF 9 4 5 18 3 6 10 10 1

2009 250 cc
DNF 9 DNF 12 13 8 7 DNF 14 DNF 10 11 10 6 12 6

2008 250 cc
7 13 16 DNF DNF 7 DNF 12 DNS DNF DNF 10 11 12 17

Over all, a total of 93 GP starts in the underclasses and only two podiums.
His highest season placement was 10th. That was last year. In previous years he languished in the mid teens.

I'm guessing Karel is glad they only mention his father.

Thanks for that beaufort. On the other hand,what is glaringly obvious is the steady improvement,especially the solid Moto 2 job considering 40 bike grids.
From the stats,it does suggest that he is more suited to heavier machinery. Different strokes for different folks,may be appropriate.Dani Pedrosa and Max Biaggi were indomitable forces in the precision 250 classes,yet as good as they are,never did totally cut the mustard on 'heavy metal' in GP.
I'm glad Karel's in there and wish him all the best. Ducati need to chuck their weight in behind the youngsters at their disposal. Hector was also dissed, entering GP last year,but he gelled pretty damn well with the Ducati.
So much so that the contract was extended.
I actually fancy Karel to have a stellar rookie season.Why? No evidence,just a 'gut feel'. That Ducati is definitely a GP11,'slab sided,dustbin fairing and all'.
Those 'wings',because they are no longer 'winglets' are ridiculous. Aerodynamic advantage...definitely not. On an F1 car,understandable,but I don't want to even try to understand what effect they have at a 70 degree lean angle with a cross wind to boot. Can't wait to hear Stoner's take on the wings. Crash bobbins.

I think if the kid can afford to buy into motogp, more power to him. Sete Gibernau pulled strings to race last year. He failed on the Ducati as well, but at least he gave it a shot. I say go for it, but I'd be getting used to finishing last, if at all.

The smarter move on his father's part would have been to buy into an existing team and add a second rider.

We will see...

He Who Races Wins.

Stoner's parents certainly weren't well off. They sold up and travelled to Britain with Casey when he was about 15. Pretty much lived on the smell of any oily rag 'till Casey made it I believe.

Don't know that Vali's old man was exactly rolling in dough either. I've read that if they could have afforded it Vali would have gone car racing, not bike racing.

If Dorna feels they need another back-marker, I have no problem with Karel "buying" in. If he produces some surprises, all the more power to him.

This ride would not have materialized out of thin air for a more accomplished 250/Moto2 rider. So it's not like he blocking anyone from being there that "should" be there... I mean we have Edwards and Capirossi for that.

And there are plenty of open slots left in the grid for the filling by some deep pocketed enthusiasts. I say, fill'em up!

Haters out in full force since their daddy's couldnt get them what they wanted. Ignore them. The old saying rings true. Haters gonna hate.

owns the Brno circuit. It would be fair comment that he is an enthusiast ( as well as an extremely astute businessman ) If only there were more like him...........

As a team owner it will be interesting to see how he suffers the Dorna antics, me thinks he would be a forceful negotiator. I think he will be a breath of fresh air and I wish the team well.

Passing judgment on Karel Jnr is totally out of order.

Karel certainly didn't bump anyone better to get his ride, and in this day and age of riders either having to pay for rides out of their own pocket and/or line up their own sponsors, what's the difference here? Riders picked on "merit" alone have often failed ie Kallio et al. I hope he goes well.

Were it not for his money, we may well be looking at a 16 bike grid. I say we need more wealthy folks coughing up the dough to go racing.

I find it quite interesting that people here are claiming that there are so many better qualified riders who "deserve" a MotoGP ride.
News flash- motorcycle racing is a business, and it is not always the most talented riders who provide the best opportunity for a sponsor to realize ROI.

I would much rather sponsor a mid-pack racer who promotes my business, than a podium finisher who gives little or nothing back. Just sayin...
Official Lightweight Battery Supplier to Yoshimura Suzuki, KTM North America, Rickey Gadson, and Orient Express Racing.

As long as the kid is on the same lap as the winner when the checkered flag is waved who cares how he got his chance to race?

If you are offended by racers at the back of the pack just close your eyes until you hear the TV announcer start talking about the top three on the course.

I wish the lad (and his dad) the best of luck.

Good for the team. Who cares how or why they got there. MotoGP needs more bikes on the grid and Karel has shown initially to be close to the pack. Heck, we've had Espargaro and Kalio doing absolutely nothing for the past two years so Karel can surely be no worse...

"Abraham appeared looking very trim, and lighter and slimmer than the umbrella girls hired to help with the launch"