Mika Kallio gave Pramac Racing a strong start to the 2009 MotoGP season with a run to eighth position on his debut in the category at Losail.
The Finnish rider was one of three rookies competing in MotoGP for the first time in Qatar, but while Yuki Takahashi and team-mate Niccolo Canepa were pinned to the back of the field, Kallio hinted at his 250GP pedigree by qualifying inside the top ten and finishing eighth.
While Kallio thinks he could have finished higher had a poor start not dropped him down the order, he was otherwise pleased to be finishing as the second best Ducati rider.
“Before coming here I thought that if I would have finished in the top ten I would have been satisfied: the eight position is therefore a really good result. I didn't manage to start in the best way, but I have maintained a good rhythm. I tried to catch the group in front of me, but after a few laps I thought to keep my rhythm and this strategy paid off.
“In the last laps I was seeing Vermeulen closer and closer and I think that if I would have had a couple of more laps I could have pass him. Anyway in general we had a positive weekend and we will try to continue on this direction in the next appointment in Japan.”
Canepa, however, didn't fare quite so well, qualifying on the back row in 18th and only making up a single place to 17th when Loris Capirossi retired.
“I hoped to do better to be honest, but it has been a difficult weekend since the first session and we couldn't expect a miracle for the race. In the last laps I made it to stay with Toseland and I learnt many things. We will try to improve our performances in Japan even if it will be the first time for me in Japan, but I will surely be more aggressive because it is what I need.”