Johann Zarco will part ways with Pramac Racing at the conclusion of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship, paving the way for him to switch to LCR Honda for next season.
The announcement, made public shortly after Sunday's Austrian MotoGP full-length race, had been anticipated amid paddock speculation the Frenchman had already agreed on a deal to join forces with Honda to replace Yamaha-bound Alex Rins.
The move comes despite Zarco establishing himself as one of Ducati's most reliable riders since joining the Italian marque in 2020 via the privateer Avintia Racing team.
Promoted to Pramac Racing the following year after a series of giant-killing performances on the year-old machinery, though Zarco has thus far failed to secure a much desired first MotoGP victory with the Italian outfit, he has collected 12 podiums for the team since 2021.
However, after Ducati put his seat under threat by tabling an offer to Marco Bezzecchi to join next year, Zarco has gone ahead and sourced an alternative deal with Honda in lieu of waiting on a decision.
“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 the double Moto2 World Champion.
"In 2021, I finished the championship in fifth place, marking my best-ever MotoGP result, but my goal is to do even better this year.
"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. I thank my entire team, Ducati, and all the people who have worked alongside me during these years we spent together.
"The ultimate goal remains to stand atop the podium and proudly sing the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, together with Paolo Campinoti, whom I sincerely thank for all the support he has given me since day one.”
Zarco's exit means Ducati finds itself with a valuable vacancy to fill for the 2024 MotoGP season, one that could well come with the carrot of a 2024-spec GP24.
Indeed, though Ducati is championing Bezzecchi to take the Pramac deal to assure him of 2024 machinery next year, the Italian has intimated he is willing to stick with riding year-old machinery and stay in his preferred VR46 Racing outfit.
As for which rider will join the Ducati ranks, the bookies tip is likely to be Franco Morbidelli. Still without a ride after being axed by Yamaha, Morbidelli's chances will be boosted further if the vacancy turns up at VR46 Racing thanks to his close ties with Valentino Rossi.
Other candidates, meanwhile, could include Tony Arbolino, Jake Dixon or possibly even Marc Marquez or Alvaro Bautista.