KTM initially thought its MotoGP test programme would be less important in 2019, when the factory will double its presence on the grid to four bikes with the addition of Tech3.

But recent injuries to test rider Mika Kallio and then racer Pol Espargaro have underlined both how valuable the development team is to the project - and how vulnerable the project can be without more than one replacement rider.

As such, KTM is now seeking a second test rider to join Kallio next season.

MotoGP racers such as Dani Pedrosa, Bradley Smith and Jonas Folger are all on the list, KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer confirmed.

However, the present incentive of multiple wild-card race appearances will end, Beirer explaining that KTM wants its 2019 test riders to focus purely on bike development.

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"You see how quick things can change when you lose a test rider and race rider in ten days," Beirer said at the Red Bull Ring on Friday.

"We thought we didn't need a second test rider because we have four racers next year. And with four racers we can get so much data and have the chance to test more things in the races.

"But still if you want to make a development job you cannot do it all on the racetrack. And for a project of our size, we need to have a second test rider. Not to double the amount of testing, but really to be sure we have another rider available when there is a problem.

"It's definitely not an easy task for us now Mika is injured. I mean he was really a strong leg of this whole project.

"So we are definitely also talking to other guys and KTM will have two test riders next year. We don't know who this will be but we are working on it. But this doesn't mean we will stop with Mika, who will be part of KTM next year."

Folger won't replace Espargaro at Silverstone

Putting aside 2019, Beirer's most urgent task is to try and find a replacement race rider should Pol Espargaro not be fit for the British MotoGP later this month.

The Spaniard is currently in hospital recovering from a fractured collarbone and inflamed spinal cord, sustained in a warm-up fall at Brno.

Beirer shed new light on the incident by revealing Espargaro had backed off the lap before, his engine cooling by 15 degrees, then pushed flat-out, braking as late as possible.

"I think it was a mistake to let the bike cool down and then do a flying lap," Beirer said. "Riding a MotoGP bike slow is more dangerous than fast. He paid a high price."

Regardless of the reason for the accident, it leaves KTM in need of a possible replacement, but with Kallio already out of action.

"Of course we are considering options but it's not easy, because first of we hope Pol is fit [for Silverstone] and if not we have a problem," Beirer said. "Because to ride a MotoGP bike at that level, it's an incredible job what the guys are doing and there is not one bad rider on the MotoGP grid. But there are also not many guys sitting at home on the couch waiting for a call for KTM to ride.

"You've seen how many guys are in the same second as the first guy and for sure we could find guys to ride the bike, many people would be happy to do it, but if you send them out with 3-4-5 seconds slower I think it's even a safety problem for the others.

"So we really struggle, because the guy who we need to replace our race rider is not there at the moment. So we have to wait and see. Still look through some lists but if anyone has a smart idea, send me an email!"

One potential name for the stand-in role would be Jonas Folger - a podium finisher in his rookie MotoGP season with Tech3, before being sidelined by severe fatigue and stepping back from full-time racing at the start of this season.

The young German has recently been testing a Triumph-powered Moto2 machine for Kalex, but Beirer revealed Folger had already turned down a one-off race appearance.

"No. I can tell you we made our homework and called him. But of course his decision was not to race this year and this hasn’t changed. So we didn't expect any different answer but it would also be bad to hear maybe the day after the event, 'why didn't you ask me?'

"So we asked him but he is not open to talk about the race at the moment and we have to respect that.

"Other than this, there is nobody sitting at home who could race there. I think Jonas could jump in and be on that level, but all the other guys I don’t think so."

Test rider: Pedrosa, Smith or Folger

But Beirer made clear Folger is still in contention for the 2019 test role, as is KTM's current racer Bradley Smith, while confirming reports that 31-time MotoGP race winner Dani Pedrosa, who will retire from Repsol Honda at the end of this season, is also on their wish list...

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