Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio are to continue as test riders for KTM's MotoGP project throughout 2021. The two test riders, who have played a fundamental role in the success of the Austrian factory's MotoGP project, will carry on in their respective roles for another season.
The two riders have had a huge impact on the development of the KTM RC16, and their division of labor has been key in fast-tracking the project through 2020. Kallio continues his role as workhorse, doing preliminary testing of parts and testing durability, while Pedrosa works on preselecting packages of parts which work together to produce the best performance. Those packages are then passed to the factory riders for final approval before being used in a race.
The role of the test riders will be even more important in 2021, as KTM have lost concessions for next season after their astounding success in 2020, racking up three wins and five other podiums. As a result, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Danilo Petrucci, and Iker Lecuona will only be able to test at officially sanctioned test, putting more of the burden of testing on the shoulders of Pedrosa and Kallio.
Losing concessions also means that KTM will only be allowed three wildcards in 2021, as opposed to 6 for factories with concessions. Mika Kallio will continue to appear as a wildcard, Dani Pedrosa having made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in racing any longer.
The press release from KTM appears below:
Pedrosa and Kallio to continue as Red Bull KTM test riders for 2021
Red Bull KTM have renewed contracts with former Grand Prix winners Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio to form the backbone of the MotoGP™ testing team for 2021 and continue work evolving the promising KTM RC16.
38-year old Kallio has been a key part of the MotoGP development crew for half a decade. The Fin debuted the KTM RC16 at the 2016 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana and has completed wild-card appearances and substitute racing duties since 2017; notably contesting six rounds with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in 2019 and the final round of the 2020 campaign for Red Bull KTM Tech3.
35-year old Pedrosa joined the KTM team upon his retirement in 2018 and as one of the most decorated MotoGP racers of the modern era. The Spaniard brought 13 years of top-flight experience in the premier class to the KTM MotoGP project.
The work of both Kallio and Pedrosa and the testing squad helped KTM to win three Grands Prix with two different riders in 2020 and register eight podium finishes thanks to the advancement and potential of the KTM RC16.
Mika Kallio: “It is great to continue this project. Five years have passed already with this crew and I cannot believe time has gone so fast. It has been rewarding to see the development of the bike and all the phases which have got us here. Especially in 2020 with victories and podiums; it has been amazing. It is good to see all the hard work and dedication paying off for everyone involved in the project. I have worked with KTM for eleven years now during my career, which is basically half of my whole time in racing. KTM is my second family and I am proud and privileged to continue being with this company. I think the results of this year motivate both the crew and riders towards an even better 2021, so I am already looking forward to the upcoming season. I think we have now what it takes to fight at the top.”
Dani Pedrosa: “KTM is very keen to keep improving and I’m only too happy to keep working with them and helping their riders onto bigger goals. I want to thank Pit Beirer, Stefan Pierer and Red Bull for all their trust in me.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “We’re pleased to be able to keep the stability and all the knowledge we have with our current testing team. In 2020 we could show how well and how fast we are working behind-the-scenes for our MotoGP programme and both Mika and Dani’s input were important in the progress we have made. It’s only been four years but it gives the whole company a lot of pride and excitement to be able to set new targets and to make more memories in MotoGP.”