Mika Kallio has spelt out his intentions ahead of KTM's MotoGP race debut at Valencia, and believes he will be able to challenge other riders in Sunday's 30-lap race.
Taking part in a race weekend in the premier class for the first time since 2010, the Finnish rider qualified a heartening 20th, with a lap time that was less than two seconds slower than pole.
Furthermore, Kallio made considerable gains of his own, after an unsatisfying day on Friday, when he found himself three seconds off the pace.
“For sure the first goal is to be with the other guys, to see how they're riding, how their bike is behaving,” said Kallio of his Sunday aims.
“We still don't know how our bike will be during this long distance. Of course we did a lot of laps during the testing and some race simulations.
“Now it's a different story. When we need to push more in this race the bike is behaving different, the tyres too. We don't know what will happen. We will see. If we could improve a few positions that would be great. That's my goal."
A lack of rear grip proved problematic throughout the first day, and while this issue was not completely resolved a day later, Kallio found traction entering and exiting corners to be much improved by qualifying.
“Like we said yesterday, we were not happy at all with how we started the weekend. The lap time was not how we expected. We've been here practicing so we knew more or less where we should be.
“We improve the lap time today and at least now there are a few guys behind us. We can fight with other guys. That's important for the race. I'm really satisfied with the lap that we did. It wasn't just one lap. We did several fast laps. That's quite good for the race.
“We definitely improved but it's one point that we need to improve more. If you think about the softer option rear tyre for the race, this could be critical for the spinning. We still try to work in warm-up on the electronics. Maybe this can help the tyre and the set-up for the bike.
“After the warm-up we need to decide the tyre choice and also the set-up of the bike. We will see what happens. At the moment I'm not sure which solution we'll do. Anyway I think yesterday I said we're better at long distance than just one lap time. I'm quite confident we can do good times until the end.”