Johann Zarco will leave the Pramac Ducati team at the end of the 2023 MotoGP season to join satellite Honda outfit LCR.
Zarco will replace the Yamaha-bound Alex Rins at LCR on a two-year deal directly with Honda.
The news was effectively confirmed by the announcement from his current team Pramac that Zarco would be leaving the Ducati fold at the end of the year.
Zarco then confirmed this by stating in his post-race media appearance after Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix that he would join LCR for 2024.
“I’ve spent four years with Ducati, three of them with the Pramac team, and I am very content with what we have built and achieved together,” said Zarco of his exit from Pramac.
“At the end of this season, I will leave with a smile because the team and Ducati have given me so much, and together we have fought for truly significant accomplishments.
“Next year, I will face a new challenge, but for now, I want to conclude this championship with my team in the best way possible.”
French broadcaster Canal+ had reported Zarco-to-LCR as a done deal on Saturday, but Zarco disputed this, saying he had the offer (as well as one from Ducati – one that he said after Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix wasn’t necessarily from Pramac) but was yet to make up his mind.
But Sunday has now brought an official confirmation.
Zarco was originally thought to be on the chopping block at Pramac because Ducati was intent to make room for Marco Bezzecchi, the VR46 standout who would need to move from Valentino Rossi’s team to Pramac to be upgraded to factory-spec machinery rather than a year-old bike.
Yet Bezzecchi is now anticipated to be staying at VR46 – meaning one of the premium seats on the grid, the Pramac Ducati ride, is suddenly open.
Bezzecchi said after the Red Bull Ring race that he had “already made my decision” but he “can’t communicate it yet”, but it is expected that he will stay put.
“I can only express my regret that he won’t be part of our family in the upcoming season, but I wish him all the luck in the world for his future endeavours,” said Pramac team boss Paolo Campinoti of Zarco.
It is not yet clear who will replace Zarco, but Yamaha outcast Franco Morbidelli has been floated as one of the contenders.