2017 MotoGP Rider Line Up Complete: Aspar Signs Karel Abraham

The final piece in the 2017 MotoGP rider puzzle has been slotted into place. Today, the Pull & Bear Aspar team announced that they have signed Karel Abraham to ride for them for 2017.Abraham will replace Yonny Hernandez, and will race a Ducati Desmosedici GP15.

Hernandez had initially been expected to keep his ride for 2017, but rumors that Aspar was unhappy with the performance of Hernandez had been swirling since mid-season, becoming more concrete at Aragon. Hernandez is currently 22nd in the MotoGP standings, and last of the regular MotoGP riders. He has scored just 17 points in 15 races, while teammate Eugene Laverty has racked up 71 points and is 12th in the championship, and second satellite Ducati.

There can be no doubt that Abraham's signing is connected to the financial health of the team. Aspar has struggled financially since the deal with Malaysian energy drink Drive M7 fell through at the beginning of the 2015 season, in response to a trademark dispute. Aspar has spent frugally in MotoGP, and signing Yonny Hernandez was a way of ensuring cash flow into the team. Hernandez bought money from personal sponsors, as well as getting support from Dorna as the the only South American rider on the grid. Abraham's money will replace the money the team loses from Hernandez.

The plight of Aspar underlines the difficulties satellite teams face as the grid has become more competitive. Sponsors demand some level of success for their investment, but success has become increasingly hard to come by. A few years ago, there were the factory Hondas and Yamahas, and perhaps Casey Stoner on the Ducati to beat, meaning that if they got lucky, a satellite team had a shot at a podium, and should be capable of competing for top tens, and even top sixes.

Now, with the Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis and Ducatis competitive, the Aprilias improving, and the prospect of KTM entering the class, just finishing inside the top ten is hard enough. And to do that, they face competition from long established teams with strong factory backing, such as Tech 3 Yamaha, Pramac Ducati, and LCR Honda. Top tens are difficult, but even just scoring points can be tough, as Yonny Hernandez has demonstrated.

The new financial settlement from 2017 was supposed to help alleviate situations such as these. While receiving approximately €2 milion per rider a season  from IRTA goes a long way towards running a MotoGP team, it still leaves the team with another €4 million to find. For cash-strapped teams such as Aspar, that remains a lot of money.

2017 MotoGP rider line up and contract duration:

Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi 2017-2018
Maverick Viñales 2017-2018
Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa 2017-2018
Marc Márquez 2017-2018
Ecstar Suzuki
Andrea Iannone 2017-2018
Alex Rins 2017-2018
Gresini Aprilia
Sam Lowes 2017-2018
Aleix Espargaro 2017-2018
KTM Factory
Bradley Smith 2017-2018
Pol Espargaro 2017-2018
Factory Ducati
Jorge Lorenzo 2017-2018
Andrea Dovizioso 2017-2018
Pramac Ducati
Scott Redding 2017
Danilo Petrucci 2017
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow 2017
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Jonas Folger 2017-2018
Johann Zarco 2017-2018
Marc VDS Honda
Jack Miller 2017
Tito Rabat 2017
Avintia Ducati
Hector Barbera 2017
Loris Baz 2017
Aspar Ducati
Alvaro Bautista 2017
Karel Abraham 2017

Aspar Press release:

Karel Abraham returns to MotoGP with the Aspar Team

Czech rider to team up with Álvaro Bautista in 2017 on board a Ducati GP15

Karel Abraham will be an Aspar Team rider in the MotoGP World Championship next season. The Czech rider will pilot a Ducati GP15 on his return to MotoGP, where he already boasts five years of experience, lining up alongside new team-mate Álvaro Bautista.

Abraham began his World Championship career in the 125cc class, making his debut in the Spanish Grand Prix back in 2005. In 2007 he moved up to the 250cc class and then enjoyed his greatest success in Moto2, scoring a memorable victory in the final round of the 2010 season at Valencia.

That win proved to be his last appearance in the intermediate class as he moved up to MotoGP for 2011, riding a Ducati to fourteenth place in the championship for two successive seasons. Abraham scored his best MotoGP result on the Ducati, which he guided to seventh place at Jerez and Silverstone in 2011 and at Valencia in 2012.

After three further seasons in MotoGP, at the end of 2015 Abraham announced he was switching to the World Superbike series, where he has spent this season. The final round of the WSBK season on 30th October in Qatar will mark the end of his adventure in the production series as he prepares to make his return to MotoGP in 2017.

Jorge Martínez “Aspar”: “We are happy to be joined by Karel Abraham for next season. He is a new rider for us, he is still young but he has a lot of experience: he has raced in every category of the World Championship and in MotoGP already on a Ducati. I hope and want to be able to give him a competitive crew and bike so that he can show his worth.”

Karel Abraham: “I am really pleased to come back to MotoGP. I started to work on this goal as soon as I knew there was a possibility. I am really happy: coming back to Ducati, which is my favourite bike, and also thinking about my first season with them, which was my best season. It’s an honour to be a part of this team, which is so famous in the paddock, so professional and so good, and together with Ducati I believe we can make a very good connection, I’m really looking forward to that.”


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In WSB this year, Brookes scores nearly 3 times as many points as his team mate Abraham. Abraham goes back to MotoGP. Brookes will very probably go back to BSB. Money talks, eh? 

Ant West has more WSBK points than Abraham this year, and West doesn't have a regular ride and has only competed in 6 of the 12 rounds so far this year.

Abraham getting another chance in motogp is a joke.

Westie deserves a ride more than a lot of regular world championship riders have this season. His performances in the many and varied classes he's ridden in this year have been great to watch.

BT Sport have been Hernandez cheerleaders for years. I personally have never seen it, and his points total reflects the fact he is a serial crasher who has had a good chance and blown it.

That said, so is Karel!

Abraham Jr. had experience riding that version of Duke before he left to WSBK. Add some money to that, and it's a no brainer. He needs to cut back on the crashing though.

I put 40k on my old CBR - but you wouldn't sign me to replace Van der Mark next year.

Abraham was in the grand prix paddock for 10 years and won a total of one race and got two podiums in 2010 in moto2 - he finished the season in 10th that year.  Outside of that year he has never finished the season better than 14th and was pretty much the last place full time rider in this last few seasons of motogp.  The year that he wsa on the Ducati, the year he got his Ducati "experience" he finished the season in 24th place.

Other than money, I can't see that he brings anything.

Of course Abraham will do no better and maybe worse, if that's possible, than Hernandez, but presumably his pot of cash is bigger. I only hope that apart from maybe staying on the bike for the duration, he gets out of the way when the leaders lap him.



5 stars just for the Warren Zevon reference.
Now maybe rather lawyers and money, they should be focusing on the future and "Looking for the Next Best Thing"