KTM test rider Mika Kallio feels the Austrian manufacturer exceeded its own expectations in terms of performance and lap time in its initial test alongside other MotoGP teams at the Red Bull Ring.
Kallio has ended the second day of the in-season test in Spielberg 1.951s off the pace of timesheet topper Andrea Iannone, with the MotoGP contenders completing a familiarisation test ahead of next month's Austrian Grand Prix, while it was the first time KTM had run on track alongside its future rivals.
Working through its own development programme - with no key focus on racing having confirmed its competitive debut will be at Valencia with a wild-card entry for Kallio
- the Finnish rider is content with the progress in terms of lap times and riding with KTM's rivals help him understand where gains still need to be made.
“I think our performance was better than many expected and the distance between us and the others could have been greater,” Kallio said. “But we've delivered impressive work on the two test days and we notice that the other teams were to some extent also impressed.
“We didn't have any technical problems and this meant we could reel off a lot of laps at a high level. Step by step we were able to put in faster laps over both days and on the second day we improved our times by a second over the first.
“This time the concentration was more on set-up and less on development and that made it easier for me to ride faster times, so my confidence improved lap for lap. With all the other riders on the circuit we clearly saw in which areas we still had to improve. This allowed me to follow some other riders and I understand what is now necessary.”
KTM technical director Sebastian Risse says the test provided his squad with insight into ECU management and the Michelin tyres to compare itself against the progress its rivals has made since the introduction of the new rules at the start of the 2016 season.
“Technically we didn't make as many steps forward, but we made a lot of progress with the lap times,” Risse said. “We moved between a deficit of between one and a half and two seconds on both days, which for me was actually less than expected.
“We concentrated on three fundamental points. Lap times, how others manage electronics and tyres plus normal settings and test work we have been able to do also in the past.
“The next development step will be a big one and we will aim to cleanly integrate all of our experiences into a completely new bike. I hope that with this bike, and the continuous updates we'll be better equipped for our wildcard entry into the last race of the season, and the subsequent IRTA test.”
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KTM is now preparing to run demonstration laps of the RC16 at its home race in Spielberg next month along with an official team presentation.
After the Austrian Grand Prix, the team will continue its development tests at Misano before a final test in Spain ahead of its race debut in Valencia with Kallio.
2017 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will then get their first taste of the machine at the post-race test.