Test rider Kallio called in for the rest of 2019 season.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing has benched Johann Zarco for the remainder of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, calling in test rider Mika Kallio to replace him as soon as this weekend’s grand prix at Aragon in Spain.
The Frenchman initially signed a two-year deal with the outfit, however after continually struggling to come to grips with the RC16, he reached a mutual agreement last month with the Austrian manufacturer to terminate his contract at the end of the 2019 season – just halfway through the planned duration.
Zarco is understood to remain contracted to KTM until the end of the year, meaning he won’t be able to pursue alternative racing options until his deal expires.
“We have to make decisions to ensure that we use our resources in the best possible way and we are currently in a positive direction with our MotoGP structure,” said KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer. “We firmly believe that Mika can help us in this stage thanks to his knowledge and background.
“It is paramount that we verify our testing results in real race conditions to start our 2020 season in the best position. Mika has proved his ability on the RC16 and we are happy that he joins the line-up as a racer again. There is no doubt that we will focus on a new configuration with the #82 bike while fighting for points in the last races of the championship.
“At the same time we want to express gratitude to Johann for his effort since he joined our ambitious project in November last year. We now have to think of the future and are making this step accordingly. KTM will continue supporting him until the expiry of our contract at the end of the 2019 and we truly wish him all the best for his future.”
Kallio, who rode the KTM on its debut in the MotoGP division in Valencia 2016 and has contributed strongly since the early testing phases of the RC16, has already participated in seven wild card races from 2016 until 2018. He’ll join team regular Pol Espargaro.