When KTM announced its departure from Moto2 at the end of this season, Iker Lecuona's hopes of riding a factory Austrian machine in 2020 looked to be over.

The Spaniard had only recently signed to replace Brad Binder (joining the Tech3 MotoGP team) at Red Bull Ajo next year, but now looked set to race whichever alternative Moto2 chassis (probably Kalex) Aki Ajo's team switches to.

However, Speedweek.com reports that not only will Lecuona be on a factory KTM next season, it will be in MotoGP.

The 19-year-old is said to have been chosen to ride alongside Pol Espargaro on the bike vacated by Johann Zarco.

After offering the seat to Jack Miller and showing interest in the likes of Remy Gardner, KTM has spoken of having good riders already under contract to replace Zarco.

That naturally put the spotlight on its MotoGP test riders Dani Pedrosa (who declined) and Mika Kallio - who has been hired to finish the season in place of the Frenchman, who will make his LCR Honda debut in Australia this weekend - plus Tech3 riders Miguel Oliveira and Binder.

However Lecuona, who despite his young age is competing in his third full Moto2 season, is also on the KTM books via the Ajo deal.

The teenager took his first grand prix podium in the wet at Valencia last year and stood on the rostrum in the dry in Thailand this year, where he battled the highly-rated Binder to the flag despite using the customer American Racing-run KTM.

Lecuona, who also impressed the factory when called-up to deputise for the injured Jorge Martin at last year's Valencia Moto2 test, is currently eleventh in the world championship.

Kallio, named by KTM as the candidate with the 'highest chance' of replacing Zarco in 2020 pending his results, scored his first points of the year with 14th place in Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.

KTM is only thought to be looking for a one-year deal for Zarco's replacement since all the main MotoGP riders are out of contract in 2021.

Should Lecuona be confirmed in MotoGP, Ajo will need to find a new rider to join Martin, who took the first podium of his rookie Moto2 season in Motegi.

 

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