Mika Kallio continued an impressive start to his MotoGP career by reaching his target of a top ten placing at the Sepang test - despite experiencing handling difficulties with his Pramac-run Desmosedici for the first two days.
“On Thursday and Friday I have been 13th and I hoped before I arrived here that I could be in the top ten, so I'm not completely satisfied,” Kallio told Crash.net
after day two. “The problem is that I can't find a correct feeling with the bike, particularly with the front.
“My style is to always brake really late and I need a lot of support from the front. We tried many things but we are still searching for something better. When I tried to push more it was easy to run wide.
“Like the other Ducati riders I've also been having problems with the bike pumping at the rear on the exit of corners. Of course that doesn't help, but for me the main issue is the front.”
As a result Kallio, a 125 and 250GP winner for KTM, was still 2.291sec from the top heading into the third and final day, but was then able to reach his top ten goal by finding a substantial 1.4sec.
In doing so, Mika also edged out factory star Nicky Hayden for ninth position out of the 18 riders present (Dani Pedrosa left one day early) and was the second best Ducati rider after Casey Stoner.
”It has been a good day for us. We managed to solve the problems encountered on the previous days and improved a lot. My lap time was really good,” Kallio told the official MotoGP website at the end of day three “We are quite happy because we are where we wanted to be.”
Sepang marked the first time that Kallio had faced a full line-up of 2009 MotoGP rivals (pending the outcome of the Kawasaki 'situation') but he had already indicated that he will be a prime contender for the rookie of the year title, for which he will battle team-mate Niccolo Canepa and Team Scot's Yuki Takahashi.
Kallio was 15th out of 18 riders during his MotoGP debut on the first day of the Valencia test, before recording fifth out of seven riders on the wet second day. The next test at Jerez in late November saw Kallio rise from eleventh to an impressive seventh (out of 14 riders) over the two days, before heading to Sepang for the first track action of 2009.