KTM retains Smith amid Kallio speculation

KTM retains Smith amid Kallio speculation
By AutoSport

11/10/2017 at 11:01

KTM has retained both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro for the 2018 MotoGP season.

Test rider Mika Kallio contested several rounds as a wildcard entry this year, but the under-pressure Smith has been given the nod to retain a full-time ride on the KTM.

The confirmation ends speculation that KTM could switch Smith and Kallio, off the back of a disappointing season for the Briton.

While Espargaro has scored 37 points and lies 17th in the championship, 23rd-placed Smith has 14 points - just three more than Kallio, despite the Finn making just three starts to Smith's 14.

"KTM has supported Bradley Smith from the very first test on the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike in Valencia 2016," read a KTM statement.

"He has fitted into the team well and has worked hard at every test, practice and race as a new motorcycle is developed with new parts coming into the garage for every race.

"The team wants to confirm that 2018 will remain as committed to Smith as before as we both look forward to bettering results and lap times.

"He is a grand prix winner and a podium man over the three classes of grand prix racing he's contested, something that KTM wishes to repeat with an orange motorcycle underneath him."

In his three starts, which KTM called "some of the most impressive for a wildcard in recent times", Kallio beat Smith twice.

He will stay on as the team's test rider and make starts at selected rounds in 2018.