International Road Race Legend from Yesteryear: Karel Abraham

The international road racing legend of yesteryear, where has he gone, what is he up to now, and how does he view today's road racing sport? In this section, we ask these former heroes a series of (the same) questions. This week: Karel Abraham.

Karel Abraham riding on Assen

Who is Karel Abraham?

Name : Karel Abraham
Nickname : Abaja
Born on : 02-01-1990
Nationality : Czech
Residence : Monaco
Start of road racing career : 2001 minibikes
Active in : Minibikes, 125cc, 250cc, Moto2, MotoGP, WorldSBK
Number of titles : 0
End of road racing career : 2019
Current profession : Ducati ambassador, Czech TV Nova commentator

How did you first get involved in road racing?

Unlike most other riders, I didn't come from a racing family background. I just loved motorcycles since I was a baby, and by gently persuading my parents over time, I got them to buy me my first bike. Then, I decided to "give racing a try" with minibikes. And that's how it all began.

Which rider did you have the best battles with on the track?

There have been so many over the years. I can say that each season, there was usually one specific rider. I'm glad to say that I raced in the same era and shared a track with Valentino Rossi.

Best motorcycle you've ridden and why?

That's a tough question. From a pure racing perspective, it was a 250cc 2-stroke. That was a real race bike. Back then, it was much more about the rider, I would say. No electronics at all. I loved that bike!
But the power and technology of today's MotoGP bikes are incredible. The systems allow you to ride so close to the absolute limit that it's beyond human capability. Nowadays, you hardly see any highsiders, and that's all thanks to the electronics.
However, if we're talking about a street-legal bike, it's undoubtedly the Ducati Panigale. That bike can go so fast on the track; it's unbelievable.

What is your favorite circuit you've raced on and why?

An easy one - Phillip Island! I bet many riders would give this answer. The island is amazing; we stayed in private houses and had BBQs in the evenings, the views and of course, the photos are incredible, and the circuit itself is just awesome. I'm the type of rider who loves fast corners, so it's no wonder that turn one is the best corner I've ever ridden in my life. When I reached the straight, I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.
I love the speed on this circuit. It's just wooooow! I also prefer cooler conditions over heat, and the time of year when MotoGP comes to Australia, it's usually nice and cool there.

Do you have a special memory of racing in the Netherlands?

('s HQ is in the Netherlands)

Of course, I do. I remember at least three different versions of the circuit. The old one with the shortcut for the European Championship. The old long one (before 2005) for the World Championship. The newer shorter one and the versions after that.
I remember having a very good MotoGP race there by overtaking two riders a few corners before the finish. That was one of my best last laps in my career.
And again, Assen is nice and smooth with few bumps. And also very fast! So, I like that!

The best thing you've taken away from racing:

I think I've learned a lot about how to deal with stress and frustration sometimes. I also think that now, more than ever, I can work under pressure and make quick decisions when needed.
But as you might mean, a real THING I've taken away from racing is the 2010 victory trophy (in the Moto2 class of the MotoGP World Championship), which is part of my collection.

What did you do after your active road racing career?

The end wasn't very nice. We still had a contract for one more year at the time, but unfortunately, the team didn't respect that. To be honest, I could have expected that from this team, and maybe I did. The season didn't go as well as we wanted, mainly because certain parts within the team didn't really work well. I mean, it wasn't really the fault of the mechanics...
So, after that, I wanted to get completely out of the motorcycle world. And I did that for about a year. Shortly after, however, Ducati approached me to participate in the DRE events. I tried it, and it all went very well, and now I do so much work for Ducati that I've even become their ambassador! At the same time, I was approached by TV Nova. This is the main channel for MotoGP in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In those few years, we've done a lot of work, and now I come to most GPs to work specifically for TV as a commentator and presenter, and sometimes also for Ducati. I have to say that I'm busier now than ever, and I love it!

Karel Abraham in 2007
Karel Abraham in 2007, 17 years old

Which current or past motorcycle would you like to ride?

It's always fun to ride a few laps on a MotoGP bike, but I would like to ride a 500cc 2-stroke again.

For which current rider do you have a lot of respect and why?

I am absolutely sure that every rider on the grid deserves a lot of respect. First or last, the difference is almost nothing. They are all great riders riding on the absolute limit. Each of them has my full respect!

Who do you see as the greatest (currently active) road racing talent and why?

When it comes to MotoGP, it seems that Pedro Acosta has a very bright future ahead! In the lower classes, it's hard to say. Very often, we see a rider who seems to be the next legend, but then something happens, and then he struggles. The MotoGP world is really tough, no matter which class you ride in.

Who will be the 2024 MotoGP & WorldSBK world champions?

It seems like an easy answer......Francesco Bagnaia, but I'm sure there are other riders who have a good chance of stealing his title. Like Jorge Martin. He is very aggressive. This could help him, but it could also take away his chances.
In World Superbike, I'm not sure. Let's see if Ducati dominates in both championships again!

With your experience, how do you view the current developments within international road racing?

I think MotoGP has reached amazing numbers of spectators. I'm not saying this is the right way, but I do miss the older way of racing a bit. No asphalt run-offs, but grass and gravel. Elbow to elbow, overtaking at the limit, no or even just a little bit of electronics, etc. I just miss a bit of action, you know.

Karel Abraham teaching as Ducati Ambassador
Karel Abraham as Ducati Ambassador in 2023

issued: Thursday, April 04, 2024
updated: Thursday, April 04, 2024

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