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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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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Pedrosa on the other hand spent 13 years at Repsol Honda, the biggest, most successful and well-resourced team in the paddock, during which he amassed 31 wins and 112 podium finishes.

In short, Pedrosa “understands how a wining bike or a podium bike should feel.” That should, in Leitner’s eyes, propel the factory forward and provide the project with “a big boost” after a difficult 2018.

“On the test side it’s necessary to make a step in terms of experience,” he said. “Dani, of course, will bring a lot of experience. He’s an experienced MotoGP rider and he can focus on aspects that Mika cannot because he’s just missing these years in MotoGP. From the level we have now, I think Dani can help us a lot to make that next step.

When you look at the success list of course he’s also a completely different level. But without this we know how hard Mika is pushing, and how well he was performing when we brought him to wildcard.

“So it’s not just this aspect. Dani can bring something different. I think together, with these two riders, we can make a good job on the testing side and this will help us a lot on the racing side a lot.

“I mean, he more or less understands how a wining bike or a podium bike should feel. Now let’s start working. He will tell us what he thinks about our bike and we will work with him.

“But to be fair we will have Zarco in the race team and he will also have his own idea. As a company you have to have to find the correct mix of different riders. Next year we will have four highly talented riders on our bike.

“This will give our project a big boost. We’ve even got Dani in this test place, along with Mika, and this will lift completely the KTM project in MotoGP.”

The 54-time grand prix race winner is due to enjoy his first outing on the factory’s RC16 on the 16th December at Jerez.

Click here to read the full interview with Mike Leitner.