KTM has issued a statement confirming The Race’s report from last week that Danilo Petrucci will join the factory for the 2021 MotoGP season.
However, Petrucci will unexpectedly be joining not the factory team but rather satellite squad Tech3.
Petrucci was originally lining up to join the Austrian manufacturer’s factory team alongside current signing Brad Binder – but it seems that hardball contract negotiation between KTM and Miguel Oliveira will instead see the Portugeuse rider stepping up to replace Pol Espargaro alongside Binder.
And, with an airtight contract for Binder ensuring that KTM is unable to do what Honda is planning on doing to Alex Marquez and move Binder aside to the satellite squad, it seems that the marque has been left with no choice but to place Petrucci at Tech3 instead.
The Italian will join Iker Lecuona at the team, as the youngest rider on the grid gets the chance for a second season at the team before the 2020 year even kicks off. That in part comes after an impressive wildcard performance at the final round of 2019 at Valencia, when he replaced the injured Oliveira.
Interestingly, KTM has elected for one-year deals for all four riders, breaking from the MotoGP norm of two-year contracts and only confirming the riders for 2021.
Speaking in the statement confirming the news, KTM motorsport boss Pit Bierer was quick to pay tribute to the youth development program that has seen KTM now take two riders from Moto3 to the factory team.
“It gives me great pleasure to stick these four hungry guys together for our MotoGP program,” Beirer said. “Brad and Miguel have a productive working relationship and have shown the talent and the desire to win races through all stages of Grand Prix. We believe they have the determination necessary to push our MotoGP project forward.
“The same goes for Red Bull KTM Tech3 where we’re happy to bring Danilo into the family. His experience counts for a lot but we’re also banking on a rider that is committed and with the right attitude. We believe he still has something to show in MotoGP. On one side we are investing in MotoGP front-runners ‘of the future’ but they could easily become stars already in 2021 and that would be exciting to see.
“We have two set-ups but really it is one big team with all four athletes on the same bikes and with the same possibilities. Our riders’ development and success will be a great KTM story and it will taste even sweeter to take these guys to new heights in such a tough competition.”
KTM’s statement expressed gratitude the Honda-bound Espargaro, adding that “both parties want to pursue different paths in MotoGP from 2021 onwards”.
A clause in Espargaro’s contract prevents him announcing a switch to another team until September 15, but now that KTM has confirmed its line-up it seems likely that his own confirmation at Honda alongside Marc Marquez will come in the next few days.