KTM team manager Mike Leitner has admitted that lead MotoGP pilot Pol Espargaro has received an official offer from Honda to join Marc Marquez for 2021.
Rumours have circulated recently that Honda had decided to pursue Espargaro for the second factory ride alongside reigning MotoGP champion Marquez, despite new signing Alex Marquez having not yet raced for the Japanese manufacturer.
Losing Espargaro would be a huge blow to KTM, the Spaniard having led the development of the RC16 since the manufacturer joined the MotoGP fold ahead of the ’17 campaign.
Speaking to MotoGP.com, Leitner conceded that the rumours are in fact true, and that KTM are still working hard to keep Espargaro within the Austrian marques setup past this season.
“I can just confirm that these talks are going on,” said Leitner.
“Of course, we will try to keep Pol with us, but we know very clearly that there is another option for him.
“There’s no update at the moment other than that and when everything is finalised, we’ll make a comment regarding that. This will for sure happen in the next few weeks. We need time to plan for the future, so we need a decision soon.
“At the moment, of course, we first have to wait and see what the final outcome will be with Pol’s situation but, for sure, in parallel, we must also think about our future.
“So, there are some scenarios on the table for us and we can only go step by step and, finally, we will start to know what decisions to take when things are decided.”
KTM’s options for an experienced rider appear to be limited should Espargaro make the switch to Honda, with the likely candidates being Ducati refugee Danilo Petrucci and potentially Cal Crutchlow should the Brit lose his LCR Honda berth to Alex Marquez.
They could also opt to promote Tech 3 KTM man Miguel Oliveria to the factory squad alongside rookie Brad Binder, although this would mean the pairing would have roughly just 2.5 seasons of experience between them.
Promoting Oliveira may also allow KTM the opportunity to keep Moto2 racer Jorge Martin within the family, the ’18 Moto3 world champion looking good to secure Jack Miller’s vacated Pramac Ducati seat should KTM not be able to offer him a premier class chance with Tech 3 alongside Iker Lecuona.