Official: Dani Pedrosa to make KTM MotoGP wildcard appearance at Austria

KTM confirm that test rider Dani Pedrosa will make his competitive debut with the team as a wildcard during next month’s Styrian MotoGP.
Dani Pedrosa Qatar MotoGP test, 6 March 2021
Dani Pedrosa Qatar MotoGP test, 6 March 2021
© Gold and Goose Photography

After much speculation, KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa will officially make his return to MotoGP racing as a wildcard next month. 

The Styrian Grand Prix on August 6-8 is the first race back from the current five-week summer break - also KTM’s home event. 

Since joining the Austrian manufacturer in 2019, Pedrosa has been a key cog in the development of KTM’ RC16 machine that took its first ever MotoGP wins in 2020. 

Pedrosa retired at the conclusion of 2018 after spending all 18 of his Grand Prix seasons as a Honda contracted rider - also claimed 31 victories in the premier class. 

Speaking about his competitive return to racing, Pedrosa added: "It’s been super-interesting to be part of this project from the beginning with KTM in MotoGP and being able to share my experience with them. 

"Step-by-step we did the best we could and now it’s interesting again to go into a race because it gives you a different perspective compared to a normal test. It has been a long time since my last race and, of course, the mentality for a GP is very different to a test. 

"My focus for the GP is to try to test the things we have on the bike in a race situation. I wish to understand the requests riders might have for different sessions and technical features. 

"Watching from home I can sense the improvements in the bikes and the racing but in order to understand more about MotoGP now, the new technologies and how to race and use strategies against the others we’ll make this wildcard. 

"It’s difficult to talk about my expectations after being so long away from competition. It might all click into a racing mentality or it might not but we’ll try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can."

KTM’s other test rider Mika Kallio has usually been the team’s go-to as it relates to wildcard appearances. 

But with Pedrosa taking over that mantra for Austria, Red Bull KTM race manager Mike Leitner is ‘curious’ to see how the Spaniard performs. 

Leitner added: "It will be curious to see Dani in MotoGP again. He has been away from racing for quite a long time but it will be valuable to have him in garage at Red Bull Ring to analyze the strong and not-so-strong parts of our KTM RC16 package in GP conditions and it will give him a good indication for his testing work. 

"Dani has had a big influence in our MotoGP project thanks to all of his experience. The company was working and pushing hard to follow his requests, along with Mika’s [Kallio]. 

"Dani was a good reference as he retired at the end of 2018 while still at the top of the sport and we can see some of his influence in the current success of the KTM RC16. 

"He will have a mixture of the current race bike and some small upgrades and he will have some testing to do during the weekend but we also don’t want to overload him. We want him to enjoy the Grand Prix! 

"There are a lot of young, strong riders in MotoGP at the moment, so he will be busy but this is a good way for him to learn more and feel the current benchmark in the sport and this will help us for future testing."

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