KTM’s Motorsport Director Pit Beirer confirmed the Austrian factory spoke to test rider Dani Pedrosa about the possibility of the Spaniard returning to the class as Johann Zarco’s replacement in 2020, but said he was quietly relieved the three-time world champion said ‘no’.

Pedrosa has been influential behind the scenes in his new role developing the ’20 spec RC16 and has earned praise from KTM's full-time rider Pol Espargaro for his hands on approach.

With KTM scrambling to fill Zarco’s seat for 2020 after the Frenchman asked to be released from two-year deal at the close of this season in August, factory bosses approached Pedrosa. But his response then was swift.

“We had that conversation, but it was way smaller than I saw in the press, that we were trying and pushing,” Beirer said. “Because when Dani signed a contract with us, we asked him the same question about some wildcards, and whether he should plan on that, and he gave us a clear answer: No.

“He said, 'I stopped with the championship for a reason,’ and so he puts everything into testing.

“Since his lap times became pretty good lately, we saw that he was also looking a little bit more towards the race again, and we asked him definitely one time, but [he] just said no.

“And we are 100 percent fine with that decision, because this would be something which could help us really today, not even tomorrow, to have results with him on a racetrack, but first of all, he couldn't achieve anything which he wouldn't have been able to achieve in his fantastic career.

“It could only bring him trouble. And we need him, definitely, because that role that he is playing for us as a test rider at the moment, it's so much better than I was thinking or hoping, that he will be a key person for our project in the future.

“So actually, no problem that he said no, but we had to ask him, if this guy is in the KTM family. But it's absolutely no topic or no discussion for this year or next year.”

Asked hypothetically whether he would give Pedrosa the seat if the Spaniard had a sudden, unexpected change of heart, Beirer said, “In our situation, it would be hard to say no.

“But we will definitely not ask him and I hope the call is not coming, to be honest. If we look at the project in the medium term, I think it's more healthy if he doesn't call me about this. But he called me last Saturday to congratulate me for the first row, and I said thank you to him, because he was a big part of that.”

On Kallio’s chances of securing the seat for next year, Beirer explained the upcoming six races will prove whether he has the speed. “But the rider [for 2020] is definitely not clear,” he concluded.

“It was clear when Johann gave us the no-go for the future, we knew to fill this riding spot would be very difficult. Contract time is every two years. From that side the mid-term future we count 100 percent on Pol, Miguel [Oliveira] and Brad [Binder] as the three really strong riders for the future.

“Then we have this crazy situation. Mika is like the strong rock in this whole MotoGP project from the first beginning and then jumping in today. We need to see the next races with him, what kind of level he is at, if he can be the guy to do it for next year or if we need to find another solution.

“The answer is not there. We have a lot of homework. The bike needs to improve. We will develop it but the rider is definitely not clear.”

 

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