KTM's factory debut in the MotoGP class ended in disappointment, as a sensor issue caused Mika Kallio to pit and retire after 19 laps of racing at Valencia.
Wild-carding while the RC16 made its race debut in the premier class, the Finn admitted the retirement was “not the best for us”, but feels the machine is “not a million miles away” from some of the other machines on the grid.
Starting steadily, Kallio posted his fastest time on lap eight which was marginally over two seconds slower than Lorenzo's best time of the race, a feat that reflects well on his weekend of work.
“It was not the best finish for us because we wanted to see the last lap and the finish flag and finish the weekend in the best way,” he said.
“It did not happen because of a sensor problem, an electrical problem. I did maybe 5, 6, 7 laps without any problem and we basically broke one sensor quite early in the race and riding became much more complicated.
“It was at that point I started to lose the distance to the other guys. I kept going but then we struggled with the other sensor and it was impossible to continue so I decided to come in. Even if that was a negative point I think we can be happy with the weekend.
“We demonstrated that we are not miles away from the other bikes and we could be in the same group in the first laps. I could follow the other guys and fight with them.
“It felt like someone had changed the 'strategy' of the bike and the traction control…and the feeling of how the bike reacted when I opened the gas. It was different and I was confused with what was happening.
“I realised something may have broken and we lost a lot of power the acceleration was a lot worse with the problem. I couldn't calculate anymore the wheelspin and it started to spin more and overheat the tyre. This one small problem caused many others.”
Two positives that Kallio pointed to post-race were the RC16's drive on the exit of corners, and the machine's performance when running with a full tank of fuel.
“We learned something…but the first problem arrived very early and riding was complicated. In these couple of laps I could see that the engine is our strong point and I was really happy with how it was pulling out of the corners and even without using wings.
“Maybe the weak point was the first part of the middle of the corner and opening the gas because we lose the rear grip somehow. That is where we are losing most of the time.
“We saw already during testing the difference between the light bike and the heavy bike. It is not so massive. The balance stays really good on that bike even with a full tank. I didn't have any big problems on the first laps.
“Of course you can feel the weight on the bike and the brake points are a bit different. If I compare to the rest of the guys in the group I was with then we were the same. We just miss the middle corner speed.”