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Red Bull KTM Tech 3 Team Manager Herve Poncharal was pulling no punches when he spoke to motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar during FP1 at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
Plenty of speculation remains as to who is going to replace Johann Zarco in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing box next season. Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira, after his fantastic rookie campaign, is – to many – a leading contender. However, Poncharal shed some interesting light on the situation on Friday morning at Misano, saying it has never been in KTM’s frame of mind to take Oliveira away from Tech 3 and place him in the factory setup.
Oliveira a candidate to replace Zarco in the KTM Factory?
“I was talking to Miguel and also the KTM management yesterday,” began Poncharal. “This is a question and debate raised by the media, because inside the family or teams, there was never any questions. Pit Bierer, Mike Leitner, they are telling everyone they are looking carefully, no pressure, it’s going to be difficult to find someone who can compete with Pol but they have their own idea and their idea is, so far, not to take any of the Tech 3 riders who are Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder.
“This is all I can tell you but we were kind of laughing last night because there was never any debate inside the KTM organisation but you know, I understand there is an empty seat on the full factory team and there are not so many things happening in the transfer market so everyone is focused on it. Zarco is gone, what is Johann going to do? Who will replace Zarco in the KTM factory team, they are the three main questions. So, I can’t blame anybody for asking those questions. But again, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told you when Johann was quitting, which was the Austrian GP, we are hoping and almost sure to keep our riders for next year.”
Johann Zarco opens up about his decision to leave KTM
Asked about when we may find out who Zarco’s replacement will be during FP2, Bierer, KTM Motorsport Director, said: “Definitely latest in Valencia.” An intriguing wait goes on to see who will partner Pol Espargaro in 2020…
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