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KTM’s Dani Pedrosa is keeping his ‘wild-cards’ close to his chest…

Dani Pedrosa speaks out amid rumours he is preparing for to make his first MotoGP race appearance since 2018 as a wild-card for KTM Factory Racing

Dani Pedrosa - KTM Factory Racing 2021 MotoGP


Dani Pedrosa has spoken for the first time about the prospect of returning to the MotoGP grid as a wild-card for the KTM team, admitting it would ‘be interesting’ for him to line up among today’s racers.

The experienced Spaniard is tipped to make a racing return - his first since 2018 - in the coming weeks aboard the KTM RC16 after comments from boss Pit Beirer revealed as many as two wild-cards had been agreed but not formalised.

The most likely destinations are considered to be Misano - where there is an in-season test directly following - and the Red Bull Ring, where Pedrosa and KTM have conducted the lion’s share of the development work on the RC16.

Now Pedrosa himself, in an interview with El Mundo, has revealed his curiosity about a racing return has been piqued in part because there are certain developments he would like to sample in a racing environment and also because the current RC16 is reaching the end of its development cycle prior to a shift towards development for 2022.

“What motivates me the most with KTM is helping to improve the bike and, by extension, the performance of the riders," Pedrosa said. "It is also nice to see the technical decisions that are made based on the results of the tests I make.

"Participating as a wild-card could allow us to measure certain parameters that cannot be checked in the tests.

"In my first phase as a test rider with KTM something like that [wild-card] didn't make sense, because I had to focus on getting a good rhythm [with the bike]. But now that we are beginning to refine details, it could be interesting to participate in a race.”

Dani Pedrosa - KTM Factory Racing 2021 MotoGP

Could Dani Pedrosa challenge for MotoGP wins?

As a rider somewhat famed for skirting as many media-related commitments as he can (he never speaks with media during pre-season testing) these quotes are as good as a confirmation that Pedrosa will be back on the grid before the year is out.

The Spaniard commands huge respect in KTM for his diligence and discipline in bringing the RC16 up to standard with the likes of Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira vocal about the gains he alone has brought to the bike.

Indeed, Pedrosa has repeatedly rejected such advances in the past, famously when Johann Zarco parted ways with KTM mid-season in 2019, because he wanted to focus solely on private development at a time when the team had the benefit of free testing concessions.

Those concessions have now gone, leaving Pedrosa with less to do, and with the current RC16 hemmed in by a technical freeze, it’s probably reached its maximum development potential anyway.

With 31 race wins achieved over a MotoGP career spanning 13 seasons - all with Repsol Honda - though he didn’t win the world title, Pedrosa is regarded as one of the ‘aliens’ from a generation that included the likes of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez.

Indeed, it could be said Pedrosa’s reputation as a MotoGP great has grown in the years after his retirement, both for the evident gains achieved with KTM and also the slump in form suffered by Honda since 2020, the point at which it would begin to deviate away from the development work he put into the RC213V.

Whether he is quick enough to challenge for wins would perhaps depend on whether this wild-card is a racing reward for his hard work or whether there is indeed some technical evaluations to be done, but if it is the former one can imagine that at a circuit like the Red Bull Ring - which he will know almost blindfolded now - he really could be a big threat.

If he starts at Misano he is likely to be one of a handful of returnees on the grid with Suzuki expected to enter Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha enter Cal Crutchlow and Honda enter Stefan Bradl, while Aprilia could give a racing return to Andrea Dovizioso too.