News 5 Mar 2018

Tech3 owner indicates KTM transfer from 2019

Poncharal all but confirms factory alliance with Austrian manufacturer.

Image: Supplied.

French Tech3 team owner Herve Poncharal has all but confirmed the organisation will transfer to factory KTM machinery from 2019, following the shock news it would be departing Yamaha at the conclusion of this season.

Poncharal’s team has been Yamaha-equipped for the past 20 years but will begin a new alignment next year, understood to be operating as KTM Factory Racing’s official ‘junior team’ in MotoGP’s premier class.

Stopping short of completing revealing what manufacturer Tech3 will switch to when its Yamaha association ends, Poncharal’s give-away came when he stated that the team’s new partner is effectively involved in all three categories – KTM the only factory to do so.

“What I can tell you – the announcement will be coming very, very soon – is that we will have a three-year deal for 2019, 2020 and 2021,” he revealed in the MotoGP After the Flag show following the final test in Qatar. “And each single year we will have the latest-spec [machinery]. For each of those years there will be four bikes on the grid with exactly the same spec, the factory team and the Tech3 team.

“That is something you always look for and always want. Even though we have a good bike, like Johann Zarco has now, that is the evolution for the whole year and when you reach a certain level you want something that is tailor-made. For this, you need a factory behind you, so we will have that. Also, I think we always tried to be the official Yamaha junior team, but it was never really the case. That will be the case where we are going.

“The manufacturer is involved in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP, so there will be a clear path for having young riders through the Moto3, going to the intermediate class Moto2 and then eventually go to the MotoGP class with a junior team and then if they are good enough the factory team. It’s exciting and, even though that bike could be right now a bit under the bike we have now, there is room for improvement, there is room for development, there is room to share ideas on how to make the whole package better.

“To be part of that project, have an input and have people listen to us and all together trying to grow, this is exactly what I was looking for. In the last two grands prix of last year Johann [Zarco] was on the podium in the wet, Malaysia, and dry, Valencia – almost a win in Valencia – everybody was expecting a something a bit special from Yamaha to support Johann like HRC is doing with Cal [Crutchlow] and Ducati with Danilo Petrucci. It didn’t come.”

With Movistar Yamaha expected to retain the combination of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi for 2019 – both off of contract following this season – it’s unclear whether multiple Moto2 champion Zarco will remain with Tech3 or potentially join a full-factory operation, potentially Red Bull KTM, from next season.