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.

"For sure [Pedrosa] would be a very interesting rider and I can tell you we are talking to him. But I think other people are doing the same [Honda], so let's see how the discussion ends."

Smith, who will lose his seat to Johann Zarco next season, was praised for stepping up to lead the team and help race-test parts of Kallio's 2019 prototype following the Finn's injury.

"Yes absolutely: How he is working lately and giving support to the team this [test riding] is definitely a possibility and also I really want to thank him because he knew he would not be part of the race team but he's doing still an unbelievable, professional job. Performing better than ever on our side.

"He's doing a great job and really helping us. When we lost the test rider [Kallio] we asked him if he'd be open to test some new things, which could also be a disadvantage for one or other race weekend. He said, 'yes if you think it will help the team I'll do it'. So thanks Bradley for that."

Folger meanwhile has also been hotly linked to the new Yamaha European MotoGP test team.

"Now with Jonas I think basically all the names are said which are a possibility to be test rider. He is only living 30-minutes from our factory so that would be some 'practical advantage'! Beirer said.

Beirer, himself a former motocross grand prix star, acknowledged that Pedrosa would bring a huge amount of knowledge about the multi-title-winning RC213V machine.

"Yeah, for sure. All of the names we mentioned today would bring something to the project. We cannot have all of them. But let's hope we get one of them. Because also I think all manufacturers realise now how important it is to have a test team, so the market for test riders has opened overnight and all of them can get a good job for the future."

Did you ask Casey Stoner about next year? "No, I didn't," Beirer replied.

No more wild-cards

Perhaps the biggest surprise during the conversation with Beirer was that KTM is to slash the number of wild-card entries for its test riders - and may even stop them completely.

"We planned more wild-cards than we wanted because we wanted to give Mika a chance to race more, because he was so desperate to race," Beirer said.

"But this was also not very positive for the project, because when the test team starts to think too much like a race team and they want to race, you find out at the test they just want to get ready for next weekend!

"Like, the most stupid parts, that also need to be tested, they don’t do them because they focus on the race and then you start to drift away from the job of the test team.

"All these things we have to learn, being new in this class, so we will not see - maybe only one or no wild-cards from our test team in the future. That's already clear. Because four riders in the race is enough race information so the test team should focus on testing."

As Beirer admits, the chance to race as a wild-card is the highlight of a test rider's year, with KTM having planned five such appearances for Kallio before his Sachsenring knee injury.

"With Mika we had a really honest talk and told him, 'Mika if there is a chance you could ride for a race team, maybe you should really do it'. Because he has that fire. It's unbelievable.

"So I really gave him the chance, 'Go now for six weeks and speak to different teams, if you think you can race, please you should go. But if you don’t get a place to race then please accept you are a test rider. But I want you as a happy test rider. Please come back to me and tell me, 'Yes, I want to be a test rider and with full motivation I'm going to go testing'.

"But he would still be contracted as a replacement rider [in 2019] and if something goes wrong he would immediately jump on the bike and race. But he will not race in the future with the test team.

"So I think we had a really good talk and it clicked also with him, that it's still fantastic to be part of MotoGP as a test rider, come to the races, help our riders, watch on the racetrack what's going on.

"So this talk has been done, so he would be a happy test rider - but now he's an unhappy test rider because he's injured."


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