MotoGP rookie Mika Kallio was lucky to escape injury when he suffered this rough highside (see pictures below) during Friday free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
The Finn, the fastest rookie throughout winter testing and a fine eighth on his race debut in Qatar, was pitched over the top of his Desmosedici as he entered a left-hand corner just before the halfway stage of the 45-minute session.
Kallio later returned to the track but finished the day in 17th position, ahead of only team-mate Niccolo Canepa.
"Looking at the classification today it went really bad,” confessed Kallio, a three-time Motegi race winner in the 125 and 250cc classes. “I don't know what happened when I fell. I lost the control of the rear without even accelerating. This has complicated our work today and we will have almost to start from zero tomorrow morning. I hit really hard my left ankle, but for the moment it seems like nothing too serious."
Team technical director Fabiano Sterlacchini believes the accident was caused by a cold tyre.
“It was a strange fall: Mika was in the first fast lap with some new tyres and probably the left side of the tyre, which is not used so much on this circuit, was still cold,” he said. “Luckily it seems he isn't hurt.”
Meanwhile, despite being classified last, Canepa's first impressions of MotoGP were positive.
"I really like the track. I have used this session to learn the best lines to follow,” said the Italian. “It will be difficult to reach the other riders with only two 45 minute free sessions, but I will do my best. I found the circuit very slippery, most of all where Mika fell. During the session I used only one rear tyre and registered my fastest lap time after 20 laps giving me some hope for the rest of the weekend."