Mika Kallio's attempt to overtake factory Ducati rider Nicky Hayden - or 'a much slower rider' as Pramac Ducati technical director Fabiano Sterlacchini called him - ended in disaster when the MotoGP rookie hit a wet patch and fell, forcing Hayden off track in the process.
The accident occurred on lap 12 of Sunday's 28 lap French Grand Prix at Le Mans, after both riders had pitted for their dry bike. Kallio was trying to overtake Hayden for eighth when he claimed the 2006 world champion changed lines.
"We were doing really well,” said Mika. “I chose the right moment to change bike and I was in a good position. I reached Hayden and I tried to overtake him in the inside. All of a sudden he changed line and I was obligated to pass outside where there was a wet spot on the track and I slipped. Probably he didn't see me. I am very sad about today because I was feeling really good.”
"It was an accident due to a puddle while overtaking a much slower rider that didn't see Mika arriving. Nothing we can do about it,” said Sterlacchini. “We are convinced that our rider can always do well at each grand prix; we just need a bit of luck.”
Kallio's Ducati made contact with Hayden's during the fall, causing some light damage and forcing the American off track. Hayden, who had been fifth in the early stages, eventually dropped back to twelfth.
“I got a decent start and even though I've had very little time on this bike in the rain my feeling was pretty good and I was able to move up a few spots,” said Nicky.
“We came in and changed to slick tyre but with the track temperatures being so low it was hard to get any heat into the tyres, especially on the left side now that we don't have dual compound rubber anymore.
“I was actually as high as eighth at one point but I got unlucky again when Kallio crashed and his bike slid into me. I was lucky to save it because the impact was hard - you can see the rubber on the side of my bike - and I ran off track.
“It cost me time and positions and also damaged the front wheel sensor. We have two so the bike was working as well but probably it didn't help things.
“Overall it's not a great result but it has been a weekend where me and Juan [Martinez, his new crew chief] have been able to work a lot together for the first time, we've tried to build an understanding and hopefully we can go forward from here.”