KTM has officially confirmed its revised 2020 MotoGP rider line-up, with Brad Binder moved straight to the factory team while fellow rookie Iker Lecuona replaces the South African at Tech3.

Lecuona's surprise KTM MotoGP chance leaked out a few days ago but was said to be alongside Pol Espargaro at the official team.

However, Binder - previously announced at Tech3 - has now been switched across to become Johann Zarco's 2020 factory replacement, also meaning Mika Kallio will (presumably) return to the role of test rider.

Miguel Oliveira, initially hotly-tipped to replace Zarco, will remain at Tech3 for a second season as Lecuona's team-mate.

"It was clear that our plans for 2020 needed to change following our mid-season [Zarco] announcement," explained KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer. "After some thought and talks we decided to move in this direction and let the young, hungry guys with good experience in the other categories of MotoGP show us what they can do.

"Brad is a rider that has made his way through the KTM structure and we have no doubt whatsoever that he can walk into the Red Bull KTM team and keep showing that same style and never-give-up attitude we have seen for a long time.

"Iker comes into the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team and we’re super-confident that Hervé and his guys will be able to help and develop another rookie like they have done so well with Miguel this year.

"We know we are making good and exciting steps with our MotoGP project and with next season now fixed we can really start building up to this new chapter.”

"I’m super-happy with the duo we have for 2020," added Red Bull KTM team manager Mike Leitner. "We had a long discussion about it but finally I think it is a good decision that KTM made.

"In Pol we have a very strong rider who has made good results for us and we’ve seen in the other categories what Brad is capable of with our bikes. He is one of the young kids that has come through the rank. It will be a big challenge for him but I think he will have a great future in MotoGP.”

Tech3 boss Herve Poncharal had been thrilled at the prospect of a Binder-Miguel Oliveira rider line-up, but says he is happy to have Lecuona. The Frenchman also hinted that Fabio Quartararo's success has shown why it's worth taking a risk on a young rookie.

19-year-old Lecuona has taken Moto2 podiums on a satellite KTM and was signed by the Austrian factory to replace Binder at the official Red Bull Ajo team next year, just before KTM decided to withdraw from the class.

"My feeling is that this is the strongest 2020 KTM line-up we could have hoped for," Poncharal said. "We want to have four riders with talent, passion, will and that they will stick to the project.

"Personally I am happy to work with a young and talented rookie like Iker. This is the way to go for the future and we have seen that the same approach has brought some success to other teams.

"Let’s start working on 2020: we have the technical support and we have the right people onboard. I believe we will take a big step next year with both Miguel in his second year and Iker keen to show us what he can do.”

Binder and Lecuona will be the only rookies on next year's MotoGP grid, while Lecuona's move also leaves a Moto2 seat free at Aki Ajo's squad... the team with which Zarco took his pair of titles. Might the Frenchman, whose Yamaha MotoGP test-riding chances seem to have gone with the LCR chance, be in contention?

 

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