KTM team boss Mike Leitner is convinced Dani Pedrosa can help the factory achieve that crucial “next step” in MotoGP, and dismissed concerns the Spaniard’s weight could make him ineffective in a testing capacity.

The news emerged during the brief summer break that Pedrosa was a surprise target for KTM’s test team, a moment in which it was still reeling from the loss of regular test rider Mika Kallio through injury, a factor that was critical to its fortunes in the second half of the year.

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CrashTV: 

Some have questioned the signing. Weighing in at just 51kg – some nine kilos less than an average MotoGP rider – there was a consensus Pedrosa’s unique build may not make him an ideal candidate to evaluate parts for full-time riders Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco.

But Leitner, who worked as Pedrosa’s crew chief from 2004 to 2013, waved away such thoughts. In his view, the 32-year old’s weight and small stature forced him to “work very precise compared to the others.”

The German pointed to the immediate speed of Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez upon first jumping on Hondas at the end of 2010 and ’12 respectively as evidence of Pedrosa’s ability to develop a strong, rounded bike.

“People can think what they want,” said Leitner in a recent interview with Crash.net. “It’s open for every single person to think what they want.

“But one thing is absolutely clear: especially with his size and especially with his weight he had to work very precisely to be competitive against others. This is actually, for me, a very positive sign for a test rider.

“When I worked with him history showed me many times that, let’s say, those stronger, or taller or heavier riders took over bikes from him, and were always immediately fast.

“So it was never necessary to build a new bike when Casey jumped in, or when Marc jumped in. Actually they started with this bike that was developed from Dani’s side. This gives me very good confidence that he will do a good job.”

Leitner was quick to praise the contribution of regular test rider Kallio, who will continue in the Austrian factory’s test team for 2019. He did point out, however, the Finn’s full-time premier class experience amounts to two seasons.

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