Mika Kallio believes the three second deficit between KTM's new RC16 racer and Jorge Lorenzo's fastest time in MotoGP FP2 is “absolutely too big” and pointed to a lack of rear grip as the main constraint.
KTM confirmed Kallio posted a fastest time of 1m 32.8s when testing at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia a month ago. Today the Finn was a full seven tenths of a second slower, leading him to comment, “we were not showing our best.”
Issues with grip had not been so pronounced when testing, but sharing a track with other MotoGP machines confirmed the RC16 is struggling with the rear on corner entry and exit.
“The reality is the result that we did,” said Kallio, who last raced in the MotoGP class at the tail end of 2010.
“I'd say that we were not showing our best today. The gap to the front was absolutely too big. Three seconds was a big surprise for us. We thought we could be closer to the fastest guys.
“That's why we are not happy for these results. There are a lot of things we need to improve. That was just the first day. We have two days to think about what we can do to improve.
“For some reason there was no grip with the rear tyres. Even if we changed different settings, and the soft and the hard [compound] on the rear, I always faced the same problems.
“So that's why I'm not completely satisfied with today but we need to take the positives. There's still time to improve and let's see where we end up on Sunday.
“The spinning and basically I lose the contact of the rear going into the corner. It never comes back so we lost a lot of time there. this is the reality and we need to work on this.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, Kallio – a former world championship runner up in the 125cc and Moto2 classes – is hopeful of lowering his lap time by a second. KTM engineers confirmed the grip issues stem from a chassis or swingarm setting.
“We were here one month ago and we were faster. That's why we were expecting more. We are not too far from the temperature when we tested. In the afternoon we realised that it was the same. I think there is something else at the moment.
“In Spielberg we tested with everyone and we were about two seconds slower than the fastest. OK, it's a completely different track but I think this is the minimum that we need to do.
“We need to improve one second to be close to the others. Before coming here, I said maybe we weren't the best to make one good lap in qualifying. But I think the race pace can be alright and we can be quite competitive there.”