Dani Pedrosa remained silent on Thursday about his highly-rumoured switch to KTM as a MotoGP test rider next season, but Pol Espargaro spoke openly about what the 31-time race winner could bring to the Austrian project.

Pedrosa, a Honda rider throughout his grand prix career, is retiring at the end of this year after losing his race seat alongside Marc Marquez to Jorge Lorenzo.

Initially expected to stay on as a Honda test rider, rumours soon emerged that KTM - which has already hired some of Pedrosa's former mechanics, including crew chief Mike Leitner as team manager - was eager to recruit Pedrosa in a testing role.

That would mean Pedrosa cutting his career-long ties with Honda, perceived as a major factor in turning down a switch to the new Sepang Yamaha team.

However, a KTM move would keep Pedrosa closely linked with another long-term backer, Red Bull, and others question how much Pedrosa would want to remain at HRC given their decision to replace him.

While the Spaniard brushed off questions about whether the KTM deal is now confirmed - "Not from my side. I don't have anything to say" - countryman Espargaro could barely hide his delight at the prospect of Pedrosa's arrival. Especially given all of the information he could bring about Honda.

"I hope so. He is one of the most experienced guys in the category," Espargaro said of the Pedrosa-KTM rumours. "He knows better than anyone, maybe together with Marc, the Honda.

"He knows all the details of that bike, riding styles, different progressions of the bike and how a winning factory team works during a race weekend. So he can give us a lot of new tools to work.

"Actually I think it's difficult [for me] to have him on the team, he's a big name! To have Johann as a team-mate next year has been a great move by KTM, so to have Dani as the test rider would be a dream for all our factory.

"So I hope so!"

KTM, which made its MotoGP debut at the end of 2016, confirmed today that Mika Kallio will remain as a test rider next season - but is yet to name its new second test rider.

However, of the three main candidates listed for the role in August - Pedrosa, Bradley Smith and Jonas Folger - Pedrosa is the only one still available…

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