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7 days ago
By motogp.com

Kallio on KTM

Test rider talks to motogp.com ahead of his appearance on the brand new machine in the season finale in Valencia

motogp.com caught up with former MotoGP™ rider and Moto2™ title contender Mika Kallio after it was announced the Finn would be riding the brand new KTM MotoGP™ machine at the Valencian GP, and the KTM test rider talked about the project, the bike – and any expectations the team and rider have ahead of the KTM’s full-time debut in 2017.

 

First up, Kallio on…the project so far:

Mika Kallio: “This year has been quite different for me, I’ve been in the MotoGP™ paddock since 2002 and more or less we had a set schedule with the races – so now I’ve been testing this year for KTM and everything changed quite a lot for me. I’ve been quite happy so far and everything is going well with KTM – I know the factory because I have a long history with them and I was racing with them in 125 and 250 – so I’ve really enjoyed to come back to the KTM family and now, step by step, let’s say…the highlight of the year is getting closer now Valencia is only a few weeks away. We’ve been working hard for that all year and hopefully we can really achieve the results we’re looking for.”

…progress:

MK: “The first laps with the KTM MotoGP™ bike were about one year ago – so the project and the bike are quite new, still. The first laps I did with the bike were last November and after that we’ve been testing a lot – on many different racetracks. We have a lot of experience and information now, about the bike. If I think how I felt when I first tried the bike and how I feel now, I can really say that we did a really good job this year. The development we were looking for we could find. So I think the level of the bike is quite good at the moment, but of course we need to be realistic. We can’t say we’re at the top level at the moment because this is just a one year old bike and we can’t compare ourselves to the top teams, but from the feeling side as a rider I feel good with the bike.”

…expectations:

MK: “We just need to concentrate on our own team, and everything has changed this year. I think it’s better to not compare ourselves to anyone and just go to Valencia and focus on ourselves and try to do our own job. Of course there’s a lot of expectation because everyone thinks that when KTM come to the races, they want to win. They have that mentality in the factory and they push everything to the limit and try to be as good as possible – and this is the way to go, and I like that feeling. But we need to be realistic. We’re in a good mood and on a good level, and I have good feelings with the bike – but we need to be realistic that we’re not going to Valencia to win the race. But I think for sure we can fight against the other guys. I don’t know in the top 15 or in the top ten – nobody really knows at the moment because we’ve been alone on the track and there’s been no reference point. So it will also be interesting from my side to see what our level is.”

…timing:

MK: “I think this is the best point to enter MotoGP™ for KTM. All the regulations have changed and the tyres are new – many things on the technical side have changed so this is the best point for KTM to join the grid. If you want to be as close as possible to the top teams, now is the right time because everyone has had to change how they develop the bike and all the teams are new to the electronics and tyres – so we didn’t have such a big gap on the technical side. I think that’s also why KTM chose now to develop the bike and then get on the grid next year. We’ll see in Valencia how much work we have left to do!”

…getting back into competition:

MK: “I miss racing, that’s for sure. I think that’s the hardest thing at the moment – I really enjoy riding this MotoGP bike and we have a great crew at the moment and good guys working with me, but still we are not racing and that’s a big part of the game. I would like to come back to racing in future too and I think that these seasons testing are something I need to do, and then hopefully later on I will be back on the starting grid again.”

…personal goals:

MK: “As a rider I have some goals – every rider has to have some kind of goal. And this is also my first race in MotoGP for a long time – 2010 was the last time I was on the starting grid – so it’s also a special moment for me, and that’s why I will push everything I can, to push the bike to the limit and see what our level is. I’ll give 100% and also show KTM that I can be on that level, the best level in the world against the best riders. My skills are still good enough to be a MotoGP rider. From the KTM side at the moment, there’s no pressure as to where we should finish. We didn’t talk about that – so my goals are personal and that’s what I want to achieve. But like I said, nobody can say at the moment what our level is on the technical side or how close to the top guys we can be.”

…the future:

MK: “When I was thinking about the future a year ago, I felt good with KTM with our history together and I thought, “ok, let’s test with them and try to get back into MotoGP.” Maybe not the typical way but I’ve raced a lot in Moto2 and even though my results were very positive, I didn’t get a good chance of moving back up to MotoGP with a good bike. So that’s the idea and my goal."

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