Onlookers, fellow competitors and team-mates are increasingly drawing a link between Dani Pedrosa's arrival at KTM and the RC16 taking the final step to become a MotoGP race-winning package.

After calling time on his own 13-year MotoGP career, spent entirely with Repsol Honda, Pedrosa took on the role of KTM test rider for 2019, although his influence was not fully felt until this year's machine.

“It seems that they [KTM] have made a massive step, probably since the arrival of Dani as well," said Cal Crutchlow, who worked with Pedrosa at Honda.

“We know Dani was a very special guy, but he knew what he was doing. And when he rode in Honda, he was superb with giving comments as well. But maybe that bike just didn’t suit him.

“Now he’s testing the KTM and done very well with that. And I believe that’s been influential in building their bike into a race winner, which it is now."

Without a dry top-five before this season, KTM has already won twice in the opening five rounds: An historic victory with rookie Brad Binder at Brno being followed by Miguel Oliveira's thrilling last-corner triumph in Austria.

Afterwards, the Portuguese credited Pedrosa - a 31-time premier-class race winner, and triple title runner-up - with helping to tame the KTM.

"This bike for sure made a huge step from last season to this one," Oliveira said. "Dani has been doing a lot of the work. He’s really giving a very nice input to make this bike a lot more easier to ride. The result is out there.

"We could really feel that the bike is easier to ride. We can be a bit more smooth, which is also a little bit of Dani’s style. So at the end of the day it’s paying off, this hard work."

KTM's three podiums so far this season means they have now lost technical concessions, reducing the number of different circuits Pedrosa and fellow test rider Mika Kallio can visit in 2021.

But until next year they are free to test anywhere, Pedrosa recently joining Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) for a private test at Misano, ahead of this weekend's San Marino MotoGP.

Pedrosa's data will be added to the knowledge pooled by the four KTM race riders during a private test at the resurfaced Italian venue back in June, meaning KTM should be exceptionally well prepared for the Misano double-header.

"I think we don’t have much reason to worry for the next races," Oliveira said.

"To begin at a track where we’ve been testing before in June and where we have information, I think we can do very well in the races.

"I just expect to keep our level, that we showed in Spielberg and keep fighting for the top positions.”

Private tests for the KTM MotoGP race riders are now a thing of the past, having been instantly halted once concessions were lost.

They will also lose the two extra engine changes per rider next season and join Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki in being subject to next year's in-season engine freeze, although - unlike the other four - KTM will be able to make engine design changes this winter.

"We lost them [concessions], so good actually," said Oliveira. "There is only one thing that matters and that is seeing the orange KTM on the parc ferme on Sunday.

"Whatever the benefits we had from the past they are paying off now, so I guess now it’s time for us to compare ourselves with the best brands out there and have the same rules.

"So I think KTM showed anyway that whatever they are going into, they are not going to lose. I think it’s a great thing what they have accomplished in MotoGP in such a short time.

"It’s not just having the money, the financial resources to do things, but in competition it’s about gathering the right group of people to work in the projects. They were able to do this from scratch.

"I think [factory team manager] Mike Leitner is very responsible for this. A guy with a lot of experience that at the end of the day pushed the project to the next level.

"We, the riders, are the ones benefitting from it. From now on we just need to race as anyone else."

Two DNFs from the opening rounds mean Oliveira is currently ninth in the standings, 27 points from Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha).

However, Oliveira is only six points behind top KTM rider and future factory team-mate, Brad Binder, in fourth.

 

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