MotoGP rejects KTM’s plan to have a fifth bike for 2024

MotoGP rejects KTM's plan to have a fifth bike for 2024

The prospect that KTM will field a fifth bike on the 2024 MotoGP grid has been rejected.

In a meeting with KTM executives on Friday at the Austrian MotoGP, Dorna’s executives Carmelo and Carlos Ezpeleta informed the manufacturer that they would not permit them to add a fifth bike next season.

Now that they have five riders under contract for just four bikes—Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez being their Tech3 GASGAS duo, while Jack Miller and Brad Binder are their factory pair, as well as Pedro Acosta being promised a promotion from Moto2—they must find a solution.

“We still have a lot of grands prix ahead of us this year,” KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said. “You can see how many injuries happen all the time.

“The next topic: As usual, there will be an elimination race. We will find a solution.”

KTM board member Hubert Trunkenpolz said: “The second half of the season counts now. We’re not making a decision for the time being.

“Because what do we do when Pol finishes on the podium in Misano, for example? He doesn’t look unmotivated. That’s why we don’t want to retire Pol now.”

When questioned about whether Espargaro and Fernandez are directly competing for one seat, Trunkenpolz responded: “We’re still looking at a few races.”

KTM thinks they will gain from having an additional MotoGP-caliber rider in their team.

“With a total of 42 or even 44 races, we will always need replacement riders in the coming season,” Trunkenpolz said. “With so many competitions, the risk of failure increases.

“And if we can offer a test rider six wildcards and there is also the option of being used as a substitute rider, those are lucrative incentives.”

Espargaro or Fernandez might be used as a test rider who, in the event of an injury, could fill in for either the KTM factory team or Tech3 GASGAS rider.

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“In today’s MotoGP format, there are more and more injuries,” Peirer said. “But few teams have test or reserve riders who can score points.

“We’ve seen how difficult Jonas Folger found it to replace Pol from Texas to Assen. We were happy that he stepped in, but it wasn’t really a [like-for-like replacement].

“We have agreed with Dorna that the status of test and reserve riders will be upgraded and that higher-quality riders can be committed to this task.”

Trunkenpolz added: “Next year in MotoGP, six instead of three wildcards will probably be allowed per manufacturer.”

Pierer confirmed: “Yes, that’s being discussed now. We discussed with Dorna: ‘How do we get competitive replacement riders in the future?”

“[Lorenzo Savadori] and whatever their name is, they don’t ride at the level of regular riders.

“We also need a fast second test rider alongside Dani Pedrosa. Because when it comes to further development, only a rider who is fast and good will help us.”

KTM is planning to have more than four machines on the grid by 2025. For the time being, they must evaluate Espargaro’s healing after the horrible injuries that kept him out of action until the ninth round. He displayed some of his talent in Austria.

Also deserving of an extended stay is rookie Fernandez.

“Augusto Fernandez is in his first year in MotoGP and is showing promise,” KTM confirmed. “We’ve made the mistake of writing off a rookie too soon.

“We don’t want to make that mistake a second time. Augusto is Moto2 World Champion.

“He deserves a fair MotoGP chance. We definitely don’t want to lose him. Because who knows how many MotoGP bikes we will have on the grid in 2025.”

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