Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will continue as MotoGP team-mates next season, with confirmation that Espargaro is also moving from Tech 3 to the new KTM project.

Espargaro has been a Tech 3 rider alongside Smith since joining MotoGP as the reigning Moto2 champion, in 2014.

Unlike the Englishman, Espargaro was contracted directly to Yamaha, but was not in the running when Jorge Lorenzo's factory seat became available.

Although Tech 3 were keen to retain the Spaniard alongside rookie Jonas Folger, Espargaro seems to have decided there was nowhere to progress within Yamaha and preferred to start a new challenge as a full factory rider .

Avintia Ducati was also an option for Pol, and he thanked them for their interest upon confirming the KTM move.

On remaining as team-mate to Smith he added: "I have a very good relationship with Bradley. He is a hard worker and we worked well together on the setting [of the R1] at Suzuka. This is important because we will need to work together a lot at the beginning of the [KTM] project."

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director, declared: "We're more than happy that we're now able to sign Pol Espargaro as a young rider of form and with MotoGP experience for this dynamic project. Both Pol and Bradley are well suited to KTM.

"Also in Mika Kallio we have an extremely motivated and competent test rider within the structure. We can grow together and continue to develop in all aspects. Now we hope for good conditions for the further tests and extend wishes to everyone for a successful rest of the season 2016."

An impressive rookie MotoGP season was followed by a tough 2015, but Espargaro is currently the leading satellite rider in this year's world championship, albeit seventh overall and still in search of his first premier-class podium.

Earlier this week it was announced that Espargaro will return to defend the Suzuka 8 Hours title he won alongside Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga last season. The move came as something of a surprise, given the heightened KTM rumours.

Smith's two-year KTM deal was announced back at the Qatar season-opener.

The new KTM MotoGP Factory Racing team has already conducted four tests this year in Jerez, Valencia, Brno and Misano. With the acquisition of Espargaro and Smith, plus Kallio as the permanent test rider, the team line-up is complete.



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