It's been rumoured since last November, but now it sounds like Johann Zarco has finally put pen to paper on a Red Bull KTM MotoGP deal.

According to (Red Bull-owned) Speedweek.com, the Frenchman agreed a two-year factory contract with the Austrian manufacturer at this weekend's Austin round.

Satellite star Zarco, who has claimed four podiums and three pole positions in just over a season in the premier-class with Monster Yamaha Tech3, has also been in discussions with Repsol Honda and Suzuki.

However, Suzuki turned him down for 2017 in favour of Alex Rins, while the Honda seat would have been as number two to world champion Marc Marquez.

Instead Zarco is tipped to be paired with the continuing Pol Espargaro at KTM next season, in place of Bradley Smith.

Nonetheless, the move will be more of a gamble for Zarco than it appeared at the end of KTM's impressive rookie MotoGP campaign.

The RC16 is yet to take a further step forward this season - scoring a best of eleventh so far, with KTM sixth and last in the constructors' championship.

"I cannot say anything about our future MotoGP factory team, unfortunately you have to speculate," KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer told Speedweek of the Zarco rumours.

"All I know is that Honda is also very interested in Zarco. KTM, of course, [CEO] Stefan Pierer has already told you once. It's no secret that Johann Zarco is interested in us…"

The Zarco deal could be officially announced next time in Jerez, the start of the European season.

KTM will have four machines on the grid next season with Tech3 already confirmed as the factory's first satellite team.

Zarco was the first Red Bull Rookies Cup champion, in 2007, prior to the start of his grand prix career.

The 27-year-old is presently tied on points with Cal Crutchlow for fourth in the MotoGP standings, and top satellite honours.

A satellite Yamaha rider has never won a four-stroke MotoGP race, but Zarco finished just 0.337s from victory at Valencia last year and lost out to Crutchlow by just 0.251s in Argentina this year.

 

 

 

 

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