KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa will make his return to MotoGP competition after the 2021 summer break, with a wildcard appearance in the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
Pedrosa, 35, hasn’t raced in the premier class since leaving the factory Honda team, with which he’d spent his whole MotoGP career, at the end of 2018.
Though his new employer KTM has long appeared keen to give him a race outing, Pedrosa has long resisted the urge – but his stance appeared to have softened this year.
And, as reported by The Race earlier in 2021, he will now indeed make his first MotoGP start on a non-Honda bike.
“It will be curious to see Dani in MotoGP again,” said KTM’s team manager Mike Leitner, a former crew chief of Pedrosa’s from his Honda days.
“He has been away from racing for quite a long time but it will be valuable to have him in garage at Red Bull Ring to analyse the strong and not-so-strong parts of our KTM RC16 package in GP conditions and it will give him a good indication for his testing work.”
Leitner says Pedrosa will “have a mixture of the current race bike and some small upgrades” in the Styrian GP.
“It has been a long time since my last race and, of course, the mentality for a GP is very different to a test,” Pedrosa said.
“My focus for the GP is to try to test the things we have on the bike in a race situation.
“I wish to understand the requests riders might have for different sessions and technical features.
“Watching from home I can sense the improvements in the bikes and the racing but in order to understand more about MotoGP now, the new technologies and how to race and use strategies against the others we’ll make this wildcard.
“It’s difficult to talk about my expectations after being so long away from competition. It might all click into a racing mentality or it might not but we’ll try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can.”
The Red Bull Ring – which like last year will host a pair of MotoGP races in back-to-back weekends – was a happy hunting ground for the KTM last year.
The 2020 double-header yielded its MotoGP programme’s first pole at the hands of Pol Espargaro, and a maiden win for then-satellite rider Miguel Oliveira.