Dani Pedrosa has been announced as a test rider for the 2019 KTM MotoGP team. Pedrosa will retire at the end of the 2018 season and begin his test duties with the Austrian manufacturer in January.
There are red flags and green flags with Pedrosa’s role as a test rider. In no particular order:
Green Flag: Over a decade riding experience in MotoGP.
Red Flag: He’s only ridden for one manufacturer in his entire MotoGP career.
Green Flag: Is lightweight.
Red flag: Depending on the rider, Pedrosa is 20-30 pounds lighter than typical MotoGP riders. This is a problem.
Green flag: Comes from Honda and HRC. Might have a very good idea how their seamless transmission works and which engine configuration works the best for Honda (in terms of light/heavy crank, etc)
Red flag: You’d be surprised how little factory riders truly know about the nuances of their motorcycles. Typically the rider points out where he is losing time, and the team adjust the motorcycle to work better. Oftentimes the details are not shared with the rider. Additionally this is HRC. So the usual “I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you” policy on technical details is still very valid.
Green flag: Has a decade of experience with top level Showa and Ohlins suspension.
Red Flag: KTM uses WP suspension and shows no sign of using anything else.
Green flag: Has been teamed with three riders who have won the MotoGP world championship.
Red flag: Dani has never won the MotoGP world championship.
Green flag: Is not a test rider for HRC. Was free to sign a test rider deal with any other manufacturer.
Red flag: Honda did not want him as a test rider. HRC’s current test riders are basically guys running gas through the bike so data can be collected. Ideally, HRC needs a MotoGP-winning test rider ala Casey Stoner. They opted to NOT sign Dani Pedrosa to a test rider role.
Green flag: Has long had equipment custom made for him by HRC. From chassis to levers to bodywork Pedrosa’s RC213v is tuned to his light weight and limited height.
Red flag: Has had equipment custom made for him by HRC. From chassis to levers to bodywork Pedrosa’s RC213v is tuned to his light weight and limited height. Basically building a bike for Dani to use is largely a one-off in a lot of respects.
Green flag: Leaves HRC with former favored rider status, probably knows where a lot of bodies are buried and how they achieved success.
Red Flag: Meaning the transmission or the software. No one outside the HRC seamless transmission technician group or a top HRC engineer nobody has seen the inner working of their seamless transmission.
Green flag: Dani should be able to help KTM whittle away the dead wood from their MotoGP program and get the Austrian bike closer to a bike with a consistent baseline set up, from which good strides can be made.
Red flag: As long as it’s a set up for a 130 pound, very short rider, KTM will be golden.
Green flag: Has a unique overall set up that makes his small stature, light weight and non-typical physical attributes work. He can put together a set up that allows him to go fast.
Red flag: Has any rider in the history of the Repsol Honda MotoGP team ever said “give me Pedrosa’s set up”?
Green flag: is riding the current HRC factory bike and has current knowledge of how the bike is set up and its attributes as raced this season. This may key in terms of fuel consumption and their use of the ECU software.
Red Flag: Former factory Honda riders who left the team state that the moment Honda and HRC decide you are not in their future, your bike can go into lock-down mode. Dani has struggled in 2018, which could be caused by a lot of different factors. Does he have the latest and greatest from HRC? Assuredly he believes that he does.