Having attracted a substantial amount of criticism ahead of his MotoGP debut in 2011, Karel Abraham went a long way to confounding his critics during his maiden campaign, in doing so transforming his reputation from journeyman into promising youngster.
Making his grand prix debut in 2005 aged just 15-years-old, Abraham’s initial foray into the 125cc class was a steady one as he struggled to crack the points during two seasons there.
Riding an Aprilia for Semprucci Cardion Blauer in 2005, Abraham failed to get onto the scoresheet once, though a pair points’ finishes in Japan and Portugal finally got the youngster off the mark towards the end of 2006.
Nonetheless, Abraham, with the aid of the substantial Cardion AB backing that has been present throughout his career, earned a graduation to the 250cc class in 2007 and it is here where he began to show signs of development.
Adapting well to the quarter-litre Aprilia, Abraham was a regular points’ finisher during his maiden season, peaking with top ten finishes at Donington Park and Estoril. Further advances in 2008 saw him lower his personal best to seventh at Losail and Mugello, though a mid-season absence through injury pegged him back at 16th in the overall standings.
Remaining for the final season of 250GP racing, Abraham scored in all but four races, claiming best results of sixth place at Phillip Island and Valencia to conclude his year in 14th position.
Sticking around for the series’ metamorphosis into the Moto2 World Championship, Abraham, still competing under the Cardion AB banner, began the year riding the RSV chassis, only to switch to more favourable FTR machinery after just two events.
Despite a difficult opening few races, Abraham notched up a break-out result in Barcelona with a run to fourth position, which he supplemented with a run to fifth next time out at the Sachsenring.
The results were enough to convince Abraham and his father, owner of the Cardion AB company that also runs Czech Republic Grand Prix hosts Masaryk Brno, that a future in the premier MotoGP class was beckoning.
Getting the opportunity to test the Ducati GP10 mid-season, Abraham and Cardion AB duly announced its plans to graduate to MotoGP in 2011 during the 2010 Czech Republic Grand Prix. Though a welcome boost for the flagging MotoGP grid numbers, the deal was met with cynicism from many who felt Abraham had simply bought his way into the series, while Casey Stoner even commented that he hadn’t done enough in his career to justify joining the category.
Surrounded by such comments, Abraham duly attempted to prove himself during the second-half of the Moto2 season and quickly began to make his pitch, scoring a maiden podium at Motegi before stunning the paddock by taking an unexpected win at the Valencia season finale.
Despite this, Abraham – as one of just two rookies starting the 2011 season -, was still expected to bring up the rear during his and the team’s maiden season. However, the Czech rider proved a revelation on the Desmosedici, comparing favourably to his more experienced rivals and battling hard in the mid-field.
Cracking the top ten in only his second race at the sodden Jerez with a run to seventh, Abraham was a top ten finisher at Le Mans, Barcelona, Silverstone – where he famously battled with Valentino Rossi – and Sepang. He was even on course for a top five finish at the Valencia finale, only to crash on the final lap, dropping him to eighth.
Placing him 14th in the final standings, just behind fellow rookie Cal Crutchlow, but ahead of reigning Moto 2 champion Toni Elias and Pramac Ducati duo Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi, Abraham successfully established himself as a favourite MotoGP underdog.
Sticking with Ducati machinery for 2012, Abraham went into the year looking to build on the momentum of his debut campaign, but he would ultimately struggle to replicate the same form.
Struggling to adapt to the handful that was the GP12, Abraham’s cause was further hampered by persistent injury problems that ruled him out of four races and stymied him in many others.
As a result, despite half of the field being made up of slower CRT machinery, Abraham didn’t sneak a top ten finish until mid-season at Laguna Seca. Thereafter, Abraham proved more competitive during the second-half of the year, at least compared with fellow Ducati rider Hector Barbera, though he was still classified as the lowest placed prototype rider by the season’s end.
Having fallen out of favour with Ducati, Abraham and his Cardion AB team will embark on a new chapter in 2013 by switching to the CRT class with an Aprilia-engineered ART chassis. Coupled with what many feel is the most competitive of the CRT machines, Abraham heads into 2013 keen to rediscover the form that left many suitably impressed in 2011.