KTM, MotoGP's newest manufacturer, is 'proud' to have secured the services of 54-time grand prix winner Dani Pedrosa as its new test rider.

After 18 years on Honda machinery in the 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP classes, Pedrosa competed in his final race at Valencia in November.

The Spaniard found out he had lost his Repsol Honda seat to Jorge Lorenzo during the middle of this season, but could have continued his career by moving to Sepang Yamaha, or remained at Honda as a test rider.

Instead, Pedrosa chose a fresh challenge at KTM, where he will now make an early RC16 debut at Jerez on December 18-19, rather than Sepang in February.

"We are definitely really, really proud that a rider like Dani is coming on our side and bringing his experience into our project," said KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer.

"In the beginning he wanted to stop [racing], then maybe not to stop and there was another project for him coming up [the satellite Yamaha].

"We didn’t put any extra pressure on him to decide, but he knew from the beginning we really, really wanted him because he can give a huge value to our project in terms of development for the future.

"I think that’s always great for a rider - if he stops his career, that he gets the feeling he’s really needed somewhere and not just a marketing idol or something," added Beirer, himself a former motocross grand prix title contender.

"So I think there is still a lot of fire in him and he wanted to get a job where he needs to work. That’s definitely something we can supply him with!"

Pedrosa and Honda: Over after 18 years

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Beirer also hopes that the combined efforts of Pedrosa and long-time KTM test rider Mika Kallio will take some of the technical burden from Pol Espargaro and new factory team-mate Johann Zarco.

"I think our riders [have been] in a difficult situation because they came to the project with a difficult bike, they had to change parts every week and were always distracted from pure racing," Beirer said.

KTM claimed its first MotoGP podium with third place for Espargaro in the wet Valencia finale, allowing the factory to snatch fifth in the constructors' championship from Aprilia.

The RC16, which made its MotoGP debut with Kallio at Valencia 2016, has taken a best race result of ninth in the dry.

KTM will also field a satellite team in 2019, having joined forces with Tech3.

"We need to see this as a long-term project," said Beirer.

"We could prove that we take it very seriously and have a great team and staff. The next step is we got riders like Johann, who gave us the trust already very early, and we have Dani coming over as a test rider.

"So I think if we did not work so professionally, they would not give us this trust. So this was already for us a little payback and will put the project definitely on another format.

"Getting the Tech3 team over with Herve and all his team and all the experience they have in that class will also make us stronger."

 

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