The old guard of MotoGP are making something of a comeback after the summer break. Two familiar names and now test riders are to make a brief return to racing, in Austria and beyond.
Only one of those riders – Dani Pedrosa – has been officially confirmed as a wildcard at the first race at the Red Bull Ring – but Cal Crutchlow is widely expected to replace Franco Morbidelli for the next three rounds.
The news that Dani Pedrosa is to make a wildcard appearance at the Red Bull Ring at the Styrian Grand Prix had been widely rumored, but still comes as something of a surprise.
There had been much talk early in the year that Pedrosa would race for KTM as a wildcard, but the Spaniard’s aversion to media appearances and general lack of interest in racing made that seem unlikely.
It appears that there has been some pressure on Pedrosa to race, however. The last time Pedrosa actually competed in a MotoGP race was at the final round of 2018 at Valencia.
Though Pedrosa’s input has been invaluable in helping to develop the KTM RC16 into a competitive machine, there was talk that the Spaniard was starting to lose his ability to push right at the very razor’s edge of performance.
Putting Pedrosa back into a racing situation will sharpen his reflexes, it is thought, and help him be even more productive.
This is a lesson learned from Ducati, who have encouranged test rider Michele Pirro to keep racing in the Italian CIV Superbike championship, for this very reason.
Racing boosts the ambition, and hones the senses, giving them a better understanding of just how much risk can be taken on a race bike, and giving them a better feeling for where the limit actually lies.
While Dani Pedrosa has been confirmed officially as a wildcard, Franco Morbidelli’s replacement has not.
What has been officially announced by Petronas Yamaha boss Razlan Razali is that Morbidelli is to miss the next three races – two rounds in Austria and the British Grand Prix in Silverstone – while he recovers from surgery to fix a torn ACL.
Unofficially, however, it seems that Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow is to take Morbidelli’s place in the Petronas squad.
That is something of a mixed blessing for Crutchlow. The Englishman gets to ride the slowest bike on the grid at the fastest track on the calendar not once but twice, a track with the 2019 Yamaha M1 does not prosper.
However, he also gets to race his home Grand Prix at Silverstone on the M1, a track at which the Yamaha has excelled in the past.
An appearance by Crutchlow is still not offcially confirmed, however. We will only know for certain whether he is racing once official confirmation arrives.
Source: KTM; Photo: © 2021 KTM / Polarity Photo – All Rights Reserved