The First Shoe Drops: Avintia Terminates Contract With Karel Abraham, Abraham Ends MotoGP Career

Karel Abraham is to cease racing in the MotoGP class for the foreseeable future. The 29-year-old told a meeting with fans on Saturday night that he would not be returning to the Avintia team for 2020, and that it is likely he will end his active racing career altogether.

Abraham made his decision after being told not to come to Jerez for the two-day MotoGP test due to start on Monday. The email had come as a hard blow, Abraham told the fans, as he had a contract to continue racing with the Reale Avintia team for 2020. But on Friday night, he had received an email terminating the contract, though Abraham disagreed with the reasons given.

The way in which the contract was ended made the Czech rider not want to have anything more to do with the team, he told the fans present at the event. Something like this should be dealt with before leaving for the flyaways, or at least in a face-to-face meeting, Abraham said.

Abraham accused the Avintia team of financial problems, claiming that a number of mechanics did not travel to the Malaysian round of the championship in Sepang. Abraham accused Avintia of not having paid some mechanics. In turn, Abraham stands accused of not having fulfilled his contract with Avintia by paying the agreed sponsorship amount.

Abraham's departure opens the way for Johann Zarco to take the seat there. The Frenchman had originally turned the team down, saying they were 'not a top team'. "I want a good team and a good bike, and for me Avintia is not a top team, so if I have to lose more myself in that place, I will move to Moto2," Zarco had said on Saturday at Valencia. 

But after the weekend, Zarco was spotted holding meetings with Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, where he is believed to have been offered assurances about the level of support at the team. Zarco also has the backing of French GP promoter Claude Michy, who has persuaded Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta to back the team.

However, top French journalist Thomas Baujard spoke by phone to Johann Zarco about a move to Avintia during the test at Valencia, and at that point, Zarco was still to be convinced. At the moment, the seat left vacant by Alex Marquez in the Marc VDS Moto2 team was still available, but talks between the team and Zarco have been difficult.

As of Saturday night, there is still no sign of Zarco having made a decision about taking the ride on a Ducati with the Reale Avintia team. With that seat now empty, it would be logical for Zarco to fill the seat and try to win a much better ride in 2021. But the Zarco saga is so long and complex that logic has long since been abandoned. We await official confirmation of the next move.

Even if Zarco does take the Avintia seat, he is unlikely to ride at Jerez. The Frenchman is still recovering from the ankle injury picked up in his crash during the race at Valencia, and is far from being fully fit to ride. There will also have to be some papering over the cracks left by the Frenchman's comments about the team.

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... is that he doesn't know when to stop talking. 

He has tremendous talent, but now has a reputation for being mercurial and petulant.  He's a bit of a head case, but unlike certain recently retired riders, he doesn't have the multiple World Championships needed for those outbursts to be considered "eccentric" instead of "a royal pain in the arse".

At this point, it would seem that the best thing for him to do would be to take whatever ride he can get (i.e. Avintia, if it's offered to him), keep his comments to himself, and go into Career Resurrection Mode.  Right now he's damaged goods, and needs to be on his best behavior. 

And while he's at it, he and Laurent Fellon need to kiss and make up.  Zarco's implosion started when he had a hissy-fit and walked away from the one person who had been steady throughout his career. 

Johann Zarco + Ducati People Management. 

People in high places. Abuse of power. Worthless contract and worker discarded like garbage. Ducati management involved. Brno Circuit's days are numbered? When will the ridiculousness end? Does it continue even after death?

It can be a tough row to hoe...knowing that you are racing against the very best in the world but (almost) universally clowned because you are only quicker than 99.997% of the riders on this planet. Hearing yourself referred to as "Karel the Gravel" is harsh...even if that was one I started (and I was really hoping it would catch on). And riding for Team Shambles, who are always a few Euro's short and a few weeks late, can't be making make this life any sweeter.

So, what did you learn at Avintia, Karel?..."How to hold my wallet between my teeth while I showered"

And for that I like Karel. He was always a good interview; very knowledgeable (to a degree that may have surprised a few people), and always with a pleasant demeanor...even when living week in and week out with very unpleasant results. And he was reliably available for a chat right after Q1 (I mean like clockwork). And in all those chats I have never heard him say a cross word...until now. Which is understandable. Almost as if, while he was earnestly splitting rails, someone had stabbed a youthful Abe Lincoln in the back...and then Abe was asked how he felt about all that.

I hope Karel catches the first thing smoking in another series. BSB is always a possibility, and I have little doubt that he would be welcomed...and have more than a little our American series. If only we knew what that actually was this week, where it was running, and if they have secure lockers in the shower facilities. I could say it would be great to see Karel further up in the results because the sport could use more like him... except the truth of it is that racing the world over has always been largely stocked with pilots like Karel. Fast, earnest young men and women who don't complain, are easy to get on with, always hold up their end of the log, and never stop trying. And we are all better off for them. Cheers.

PS - Is there a critical mass of unpleasantness and resentment where it all just collapses into some sort of ill-mannered black hole? When the mass of Johann's gracelessness meets the weight of resentment from the Avintia mechanics ("gentlemen, in lieu of pay, please accept these insults and slurs instead") we may just find out. CERN could be only a few more ill-considered remarks, en Francais or otherwise, from being made redundant. Cheers.


Deleted duplicate post. At least this one is brief and to the point...didn't think I had it in me, did you? . Cheers.

Nobody likes to be sacked and he did really keep trying without compaining but he also was still enjoying his job i guess. What i don’t understand is how johan could still end up racing with a team that he rejected for basically being crap. bye bye team dynamics...

Nobody likes to be sacked and he did really keep trying without compaining but he also was still enjoying his job i guess. What i don’t understand is how johan could still end up racing with a team that he rejected for basically being crap. bye bye team dynamics...

Oh Jinx, you have done it again! I am laughing out loud.

Care to surmise who has already slithered into the MotoGP 'I'll mannered black hole'

Keep it up please.

One and only one question - 2020 or 2019 bike? (There are a number of moving parts here, withholding early judgement). If funding is following Zarco, and Duc gets interested in having him on a step up in kit to match Pramac, this is a very welcome addition.

The Ducati chassis is getting a major change right now. If the Yamaha doesn't get 2 steps more motor, what if Duc gets 2 steps better handling? And another rider that can get it doing the business?

Of course I wish good things for Abraham, and sacked via email w a contract dispute over pay to play funds now is lousy. Looks like Avintia and other folks (not Ducati) are pulling these strings primarily. Zarco and Avintia may be in agreement that they ought to be a higher level team w better kit. I won't be someone that has a tough time with this development outside of empathizing with Karel. He deserved more respect. That ride? Cash deal, and looks like it was shifting around poorly.

2020 bike please Ducati! He might be in it as a third very strong Red rider along side Miller and Dovi. Carmelo may even be good for a few more francs. 2019 bike could work ok, but a tepid move on Ducati's part.

I hear GP19's for Avintia, mate. Ducati is already in for 24 GP20 motors, eight complete bikes, plus whatever they keep for testing. Some of that is comprised of long-lead items where it is already too late to start revising quantities upwards. The GP20 looks like Gigi grabbed a frame from one of his old world championship 250cc Aprilias and somehow managed to stuff a Desomosedici into it. I think it will be an absolute Jewel, and he is certainly not giving any to "those people".

Besides, Ducati will have six perfectly good GP19's laying about next season, and they are all paid for. 3x wins and 17x podiums for the GP19 this year, and it will come fully loaded with that beast of a motor, fantastic gearbox, the latest electronics and aero packages, top of the line suspension components, and probably the composites will be the best bike Zarco or Tito have ever thrown a leg over (including the 2016 spec M1 Zarco was previously on, which couldn't hold a candle to a GP19), and good enough to make a strong man weep every time either of those two bins one of them. Avintia has been upgraded to "Satellite Team" status* which means a few Ducati Techs in their box on race weekends. It is all being paid for by DORNA and the French MotoGP promoter, which I assume means they raided the widows and orphans fund and will make up the rest by increasing prices and fees with the same fairness and discretion a pair of foxes would show to an unguarded hen house. Cheers. 

*I believe Avintia's previous status with Ducati was; Those horrible distant relatives nobody speaks about that are rumored to all have more toes than fingers (either by birth or misadventure) and every time they self-invite to a wedding reception we have to stay up late and count all the spoons. Cheers.

Avintia being disgrace.

Would Aprilia be brave enough to buy the MotoGP slot of Avintia with the intervenience of Dorna.

Then  Fausto Gresini to run satellite Suzukis.

It would be perfect in my eyes.

I always wondered why Karel Abraham continued to soldier on in MotoGP. But I know the answer. My own "professional" career consisted of an under-equiped and under-talented hat toss into the ring. And as pathetic his race effort appeared, I know, I'm not qualified to "carry his jock strap", being part of the "99.997%" (as Jinx puts it). The hand wringing on Twitter is a bit much, but a sober assesment would indicate he was a journeyman. Not a Journeyman like Simon Crafar, but a journeyman none the less. I hope he doesn't suffer too many long term orthopaedic issues. I'm sure whatever the cost, he wouldn't trade all the experiences (and a front row MotoGP start) for anything. 

I also had wondered how Abraham had lasted so long in MotoGP. I'll admit I didn't know much about him and only took note at the common announcement, "Karel Abraham has crashed out." That at least told me that he was always pushing as hard as could and never stopped trying. Much to respect there. What he didn't deserve is to be cut like that. Truely a crap way to end someone's career. Somewhere Casey Stoner is nodding his head and thinking,"These are the type of things that make me glad I retired."

This is the most bad tempered and toxic transfer season of all time. 

a harbinger of things to come or proof of a product in rude health?

the sands of time are misty, come back later...