Bradley Smith can finally sleep easily after KTM confirmed it will not tinker with its current rider line-up for the 2018 MotoGP season.

The Englishman will continue in his position as Pol Espargaro’s team-mate in the Austrian factory’s two rider assault in 2018, KTM’s second in the premier class as an official factory entry.

The announcement means Mika Kallio will stay on as the factory test rider, a position he has occupied for the past two years, and will contest “selected wildcard rides” through the year.

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Although Smith is in the first of a two-year deal with KTM, doubts were cast on his future after Kallio’s impressive wildcard outings at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, and Aragon.

On Both occasions the Finn placed well ahead of Smith, leading factory bosses to change his crew chief (Tom Jojic was out, Esteban Garcia, formerly working with Kallio, came in) for the British Grand Prix, and call for an improvement in his results.

At Aragon rumours abounded linking Kallio to Smith’s seat for ’18, with the Finn making no secret of his desire to return to racing full-time.

“First of all, I had these two races – Germany and Austria – and after Austria we thought we could also come here,” he said. “Now that we did it, so I believe this is the last one for this season. Hopefully next year we can do something more.”

But the Austrian factory has ended the near relentless speculation surrounding its rider line-up for ’18, with a factory statement reading, “KTM have supported Bradley Smith from the very first test on the KTM RC16MotoGP bike in Valencia 2016.

“He has fitted into the team well and has worked hard at every test, practice and race as a new motorcycle is developed with new parts coming into the garage for every race. The team want to confirm that 2018 will remain as committed to Smith as before as we both look forward to bettering results and lap times.

“He is a Grand Prix winner and a podium man over the three classes of Grand Prix racing he’s contested, something that KTM wish to repeat with an orange motorcycle underneath him.”

On Kallio, the statement read, “Mika Kallio will remain as the team’s test rider for 2018 with selected wildcard rides for the Finn. He has been a huge part of the progress of the MotoGP project through his vast experience in Grand Prix that go back 17 years, knowledge that has been a major factor in the project exceeding the initial expectations for 2017. KTM look forward to Kallio’s ongoing speed and support so the motorcycle can jump forward to the next step in 2018 and beyond.

“His three races so far this year have been some of the most impressive for a wildcard in recent times with his commitment and speed, something that KTM look forward to seeing again at the season final in Valencia in a month’s time.”

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Why oh why...? What can Mr Smith offer that Mika cant? Money I guess...

A contract is a contract! Still classy of KTM to honor the commitment

KTM made verbal promise after Austria race to Kallio he is going to take Smiths place 2018 next to Pol. Contract didnt let Smith to be demoted as test rider and on Kallios words "team did everything they could". KTM tried to get Kallio as third rider for full season but Dorna didnt allow KTM run 3 bikes next year. KTM tried to get Kallio ride full season next year as "test rider" Dorna gave green light, but other teams got sniff of that and requlations was changed so test rider can only do 6 races in season. Sad day for us finns, Mika, KTM and GP fans.

Honourable from KTM to honour Bradley’s contract but can’t see it paying off. Brad’s career is on the skids ever since the horrendous injury he received at that endurance race. He’s been soundly beaten by both Pol and Mika so I don’t see how they can keep him on.  Who knows 2018 he might be up to speed but he needs to show something in the next 4 races.

Very noble by KTM and the opposite end of the spectrum from Aprilia. Think that somewhere in the middle might be the optimum because Smith has been dreadful and Kallio exceptional.

@Matt2

 

Was about to write exactly the same facts behind the deal but you were able to wrap it up before. 

"Sad day for us finns, Mika, KTM and GP fans",  couldn't agree any more with that statement!

 

It is a real shame that for a reason or another one exceptionally talented rider can't get a regular ride in MotoGP, allthough Mika's speed and talent ranks within the best 10 riders in the MotoGP class.

Mika's interview and statement clearly gives pretty different picture about the real situation, compared to KTM official press release that was praising Smith and putting confidence behind him. 

Facts are:

- Smith will be riding in 2018 only because of his management and layer organisation

- Smith doesn't have the speed or talent that would qualify for factory seat and MotoGP seat in general should be on a shaky ground

- KTM didn't have the balls to brake the contract, which would also harm their reputation when trying to sign for new top class drivers (instead of BS and Pol) for 2019

- Behind the official appraical and confidence statements towards Smith the KTM team clearly wanted to downgrade him to test rider and replace him as a race rider. 

         - The facts in Kallio's statement and also the previous facts directly from KTM (BS isn't able to provide any input into setup during race weekends, inability to handle the pressure and inability to adapt into anything other than race winning Yamaha. In fact was it Leitner interview or the CEO that said that we don't wan't to put any more pressure for BS as we don't want to take responsibility for injuring himself as he crashed also twice allready in Aragon test after the race etc. etc)

 

Nice 2018 racing season to be expected for BS as the guy doesn't have true trust of his team, doesn't have the speed/talent for factory ride and is keaping his seat clearly 100% based on lawyer agression/strengts! With this setup it is hard to see the BS performance/race seat discussion to dissipate anytime soon or during 2018!! 

Whatever you thibnk of Bradley Smith's performance, it is refreshing to see a company honour it's contract for once. I am puzzled at the angst for Kalio, I get what he would want a full time ride, but in all honesty there is way more talent out there in other classes, I suspect Chas Davis or Jonathan Rea from wsb would be better bets or Oliviera from moto2. Kalio is 34 now, and I think has had his chance, there are others that (If BS was removed) would be better placed to ride the bike. Just my opinion

The only reason Smith is in MotoGp is because he's british same for Reading and same reason Cal has an HRC contract. those 3 rides could had been easily with much before riders.

KTM should had tried to bring in Zarco. They are wasting their time and gives no motivation for Pol also to push as speed how fast you are doesn't matter for KTM bosses.

Not so sure about the whole passport thing - Motogp is NOT that big in the UK, it has a strong but relatively small following, and it is only 5th in Europe on Bike sales, sponsorship in the UK is really not that easy to come by. Also if it was about nationality you would see more Brits from WSB where they absolutely dominate. I Agree Zarco is a real talent, but his early season promise has reduced somewhat (I suspect because the bike he is on was the best bike in the field at the start of the year - it is not now). VERY unfair to lump Crutchlow in with the others - he is a genuine contender (if not for the title then certainly for podiums) and has real speed. If he could keep the bike upright he would be a top 3 contender. 

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