MotoGP: Dani Pedrosa to make wildcard appearance with KTM in Austria

Dani Pedrosa will on the grid at the Red Bull Ring with KTM
Dani Pedrosa will on the grid at the Red Bull Ring with KTM

Dani Pedrosa will make a sensation return to MotoGP at the Grand Prix of Styria as a wildcard entrant for the Red Bull Factory KTM team.

The Spaniard became KTM’s test rider in 2019 following his retirement from racing at the end of the 2018 season. Since then, Pedrosa has played a pivotal role in the development of the RC16, helping to turn the bike into a race winning machine.

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Pedrosa will ride an adapted development version of the KTM RC16 to gain further valuable data in race conditions. Since retiring, Pedrosa has only shared the circuit with current riders at IRTA and private tests.

“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,” Pedrosa said. “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.”

Rumours had been circulating in recent weeks regarding a possible return to action, and today’s news will certainly be welcomed by MotoGP fans. Pedrosa is considered to be the best rider in the modern era not to have won the premier class title. The Spaniard finished second overall in 2007, 2010 and 2012 for Repsol Honda.

During his 13 MotoGP campaigns Pedrosa won 31 times and stood on the podiums on 112 occasions. Pedrosa finished inside the top five in 11 of his 13 campaigns. It’s been over 1000 days since his last race, where he finished fifth in Valencia.

“It will be curious to see Dani in MotoGP again,” Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager added. “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 analyse 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.”

Since Dani Pedrosa joined KTM’s project the Austrian manufacturer has won four MotoGP races, the first being secured by Brad Binder at Brno in 2020. Miguel Oliveira has won on three occasions: Austria and Portimao in 2020 and in Barcelona this season.

The Grand Prix of Styria takes place on August 6-8.

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