KTM has confirmed it will honour the second year of Bradley Smith’s MotoGP contract, ending speculation he will be dropped in favour of test rider Mika Kallio.
After four seasons with the Tech3 Yamaha team in the premier class, Smith switched to the fledgling factory KTM outfit for the squad’s first MotoGP campaign alongside former Tech3 team–mate Pol Espargaro.
Agreeing a two–year deal with the Austrian marque on the weekend of the 2016 Qatar Grand Prix, Smith’s position quickly came under threat having failed to reach the same level of performance as Espargaro this season.
The Briton – who sits 23rd in the standings – has only scored 18 points from the first 14 races and has made the top 10 once, while team–mate Espargaro has two top 10 finishes to his credit and 37 points in 17th in the championship.
To make matters worse for Smith, test rider Kallio scored points on two of his three wildcard appearances – the Finn also giving KTM its first top 10 at its home race at the Red Bull Ring in August.
With a fourth wildcard outing for Kallio penciled in for the season final in Valencia in November, Smith’s time at KTM appeared up.
However, on the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix from Motegi, KTM announced its commitment to Smith for next season, while confirming Kallio would remain as its test rider and will contest several races in 2018.
The confirmation of KTM‘s line–up means all 24 places on the 2018 grid have been secured, with Smith one of three Brits to race in MotoGP next season.