As expected, Mika Kallio has extended his MotoGP testing contract with KTM for 2019.

The Finn, currently sidelined by serious right-knee ligament damage at the Sachsenring, will thus remain part of the team for a fourth season.

Kallio signed on at the start of KTM's MotoGP project after a grand prix career in which he took 16 victories in the 125, 250 and Moto2 classes, as well as spending two seasons on Ducati machinery in the premier-class.

While Kallio was scheduled to take part in five wild-card appearances this season, the arrival of Tech3 as KTM's new satellite MotoGP team has prompted a change in wild-card tactics by the Austrian company and it is currently unclear if Kallio will race at all next year.

"We will see maybe only one or no wild-cards from our test team in the future," KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer said at the Austrian MotoGP. "That's already clear. Because four riders in the race is enough race information so the test team should focus on testing."

Also still to be announced is the planned second KTM test rider, tipped to be Dani Pedrosa, to help ensure development continues and a substitute is always available in the case of injuries to more than one rider.

Following Kallio's accident, Pol Espargaro was also injured at Brno meaning the team struggled to find a suitable replacement, while some 2019 testing had to be done during GP weekends by lone remaining race rider Bradley Smith.

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"I’m doing well with my recovery, and the programme is laid out so I will hopefully be 100% by the time we need to start work for 2019," said Kallio, who earlier this week travelled to the KTM Headquarters for the first time since his accident.

"I’m ahead of schedule but there are also days where I make progress and sometimes when it doesn't feel like much, so it is day-by-day. I’m wearing a splint to protect the knee from bad torsion and I’m working hard on mobility and building up the muscle around the joint again.

"I have been cycling and can walk without crutches although it is still too early for me to try the bike. It’s great to stay with KTM. We’ve made some good gains with the RC16 and I think you can see that through the race times in 2018.

"It will be exciting to see how much further we can keep moving closer to that lead group.”

Beirer said: “It’s great to see Mika up and mobile and focussed on making a full recovery as soon as possible. It was also positive that he could already make the trip to Austria to talk about our MotoGP plans for the future.

"He’s been an important part of our work from the start of the project. It makes perfect sense for us to continue together and be able to use his speed, his knowledge and all the experience he has gained so far.”

Espargaro and new signing Johann Zarco will race for the factory KTM MotoGP team next season, with Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin at Tech3.

Speaking in August about why a new second test rider was needed alongside Kallio next season, Beirer explained:

"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."



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