KTM will cut back MotoGP test riders' wildcard outings in 2019

KTM MotoGP boss Pit Beirer says the Austrian manufacturer will cut back on the number of wildcard appearances for its test riders in the future

KTM will cut back MotoGP test riders' wildcard outings in 2019

Test rider Mika Kallio entered four races in KTM's first full season in MotoGP in 2017, and was set to race five times this year before injuring his right knee in a Sachsenring crash that curtailed his season.

Kallio had been using a 2019 prototype KTM that race riders Espargaro and Smith have not been able to race yet, and took 10th at Jerez before he crashed on the opening lap in Barcelona and then got injured in Germany.

Beirer admitted the team gave Kallio "more wildcards than we wanted", which meant the test team's focus shifted too much towards racing.

Two more KTMs will be added to the MotoGP field through KTM next year, and Beirer has indicated that the manufacturer's test riders will make fewer wildcard appearances next year.

"We planned more wildcards than we wanted, because we wanted to give Mika a chance to race more because he was so desperate to race," he said.

"But this was also not very positive for the project because the test team starts to think too much like the race team.

"They just want to get ready for the next weekend, and the most stupid parts - which also need to be tested - they didn't do because they focused on the race. Then you start to drift away from the job of the test team.

"[There] may be even one or no wildcards from our test team in the future, that's already clear. [With] four riders in the race, there's enough race information so the test team should focus on testing."

Kallio was free to leave for full-time ride

Beirer said he had urged Kallio, who first raced in MotoGP with the Pramac Ducati squad from 2009-10 before later taking up his KTM test role, to explore a race return in 2018.

That did not happen, but Kallio is set to stay on as one of KTM's two test riders next year.

"We had a really honest talk and told him, 'If there's a chance you could ride for a race team, maybe you should really do it', because he has that fire, it's unbelievable," said Beirer.

"So I gave him the chance: 'You go now six weeks and you speak to different teams, [and] if you think you can race, you should go. But if you don't get a place to race somewhere, then please accept that you are a test rider'.

"He's still a contracted replacement rider, if something goes wrong, he would immediately jump on the bike and race, but he will not race in the future with the test team."

Former MotoGP racer Randy de Puniet has been drafted in as a replacement tester for the rest of the 2018 season.

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Series MotoGP
Teams AB Motoracing
Author Maria Reyer
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