Dani Pedrosa closing on MotoGP racing return as KTM wildcard

31-time race winner Dani Pedrosa will make his first MotoGP race appearance as a wildcard at some stage this season, according to KTM team boss Pit Beirer

Dani Pedrosa - KTM Factory Racing

Dani Pedrosa looks set to confirm plans to make his first MotoGP race appearance since 2018 after agreeing to participate in two wild-card outings with KTM.

According to KTM boss Pit Beirer, Pedrosa has agreed to return to the startline once development work on the 2022 RC16 is finalised, with Misano and KTM’s home race in Austria considered the most likely targets.

The Spaniard joined the Austrian outfit in 2019 after bringing his long MotoGP career - spent entirely with Repsol Honda - to a close in 2018, Pedrosa opting to become test and development rider for KTM after turning down an attractive offer to race with Petronas SRT Yamaha.

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Though he never won a MotoGP World Championship in the 13 seasons he spent with Honda, Pedrosa is regarded as one of the best in a generation, notching up 31 wins and finishing runner-up on three occasions.

It is this experience that has been credited with transforming KTM’s fortunes in MotoGP, the team going from solid midfielders to frequent front runners in the time he has been associated. To date it has achieved four wins courtesy of Miguel Oliveira (three) and Brad Binder (one).

“We will definitely see Dani this year,” Beirer told Speedweek. “We will do a wildcard with him as soon as we think the package for 2022 is ready for it. We want Dani back to a GP circuit. Nevertheless, the final decision rests with Dani himself. 

“He has to tell us if he wants to expose himself to the pressure and stress of a GP weekend again, but he told us he wants to do it. We would not have pushed him in that direction.He apparently wants to compete with the other MotoGP guys again.”

How would Dani Pedrosa fare on his MotoGP return?

Talk of Pedrosa returning to the MotoGP grid has raged ever since he swapped a Repsol shade of orange for a KTM one.

Ironically, this is the one year the talk has died down, with Pedrosa’s repeated rejection of a wildcard outing - something KTM has always said it would be happy to accommodate - seemingly getting through to those who wanted to see the Spaniard battling it out again. 

There are several reasons as to why Pedrosa has repeatedly shunned the prospect of racing again. He is famously coy and didn’t enjoy the attention he received on race weekends. Indeed, during MotoGP pre-season testing he wouldn’t participate in media sessions and he gives very few interviews - if he was to return to racing this is unlikely to change.

Secondly, he is dedicated to ensuring he has completed his arduous development labour, the fruits of which are clear in the clear upturn in results. 

So why now? Well, KTM’s success means it has lost its testing concessions this year, meaning the only chance for Pedrosa to continue developing the RC16 will come on a wild-card outing. Also we are reaching the end of the current RC16 development potential anyway before a change in regulations for next year, meaning Pedrosa would be able to compete more freely.

It will certainly be an interesting experience for Pedrosa and many will be keen to see how he fares after three years out of action, but his rapid top five times in pre-season testing would suggest he could be a dark horse at a circuit like the Red Bull Ring where he has probably completed more laps than any other rider on the grid.