KTM test rider Mika Kallio hailed an improved feeling from the RC16, aided by new parts, as he repeated his fifth-place feat in an official MotoGP practice session.

The first occasion had been on a wet track in FP1 at Aragon, but he sensationally matched it in the dry Saturday morning session, sending him straight to the Qualifying 2 pole position shootout.

Unfortunately a late fall left the Finn twelfth and last in Q2, but only 0.836s from pole and the top KTM. Race regulars Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith qualified 14th and 23rd respectively.

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"That was a fast crash, but we were lucky that there was no real damage on the bike and I'm fine," Kallio said. "But I'm disappointed with the mistake because I felt there was something more coming. I lost the last minutes and couldn't improve my lap time.

"I thought that we had a chance to be a few positions ahead of where we are now. But anyway; a really positive two days.

"I knew if we did a good job we had a chance. Yesterday, okay was different conditions, but I had a really good feeling with the bike and we confirmed that this morning with the slick tyres.

"As we saw in the morning the speed is there and also now in qualifying, after the first laps my position was sixth, seventh, eighth.

"Of course somehow I'm a little surprised, I thought this track would be quite complicated for us. We've been here for testing and knew it's not the best layout for our bike.

"But now with these new parts we really make a step ahead. So with the feeling I have now, I'm not too surprised. It will be quite interesting to see what we can do in the race.

"I think we have some good chance to at least be similar to where we were in Austria [10th] but if you look where we were this morning then anything can happen. So I need a good start and give full throttle to see the flag as soon as possible."

Although, like Espargaro, Kallio was coy on what exactly the new parts are, the Finn suggested they are chassis related and at the rear of the bike.

"Basically we are looking for rear tyre life. Of course we are not sure how it will be yet, because this will be the first race with these parts," he said. "For me it was more that we improved a few areas where we’ve been struggling for most of the year. Basically the turning and the handling.

"Now the bike seems to be a little bit lighter to change direction and the turning at the apex is slightly better. Those things bring the lap time and hopefully help us a little with the tyre life.

"I mean, we think the tyre life is better because the turning is better, so we can pick up the bike earlier. We will see tomorrow."

Kallio has his sights set on trying to secure a KTM race seat for 2018, having jumped into contention after a tenth-place finish in his previous wild-card outing in Austria prompted hints from factory boss Stefan Pierer that there could be a change in race-test rider roles.

However, the latest signals have been more positive towards Smith, who recently had a change of crew chief, and admitted he messed up in qualifying.

"At the end of the day, the comment from Mr Pierer put everyone on edge. I know what's going on inside of the team. I know that the team are behind me and see the good moments!

"Today was one of the bad ones in qualifying, I hold my hands up and tomorrow I can't make those mistakes. Certainly inside the team things are good, things are strong, I just need to bring it to tomorrow's race."

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Good ride from Mika, showing up the factory star riders at KTM.

 

Always support the Brits & want Bradley to do well, but he's getting sacked at this rate. I was very happily surprised when Bradley had such a good 2015, and proved he deserved the Tech 3 ride. But in MotoGP terms 2015 is a long time ago now, and Bradley hasn't done anything since.

Mika is running a few new bits the other dont have, acording to KTM boss Pit Beirer.

Mika also wasnt doing those times out on his own, he did a hell of a lot of following MM93.

yes he still had to ride the bike, but following someone like that really helps.

@shakennstirred

Yep. They made a risky move with Mika to use GP weekend for testing and to use some new rear end chassis and suspension components that Mika had tested only once Misano. It was a risk to do part testing in race weekend but the team has done suberb job in tuning up the device despite fridays lack of dry track time. What I red was that Pol desided also to use the same parts from Saturday dry track sessions. Bradley is using the proven and fast package chassis part that they have allready two,days of fine tuning data available from Aragon and therefore should be in clear advantage compared to most  other riders. And to make it clear, any signle new part in the chassis, with KTM current package, isn't worth that 1-2 sec BS would need  ut more likely 0-few tenths. :)

in FP 3 Marc and Mika were helping each other Mika was behind Marc for few laps and then they switched positions.if you would have watched more carefully you would have noticed. :)

fastests laps Mika put in all by himself so he has once again proven that he don't need a tow for going fast which is not usually the case with his team mates. :)

It was a shame that there was a fall in the end of QP2 for Kallio. Clearly had tthe speed for top 8 in QP yesterday but when you take the bike into limit part of the game is sometimes to go over it.

 

 

 

This should be Smiths last race at KTM. Kallio has kicked his butt, no more excuses.

Kallio has been a big surprise to me as he's done very little to impress in the past especially in Motogp. The bike obviously suits him but I wonder how good he'd be over a whole season.. 

Throughout his racing career Mika has been overly sensitive getting his bike tuned in just right. When it's spot-on he can be really fast. With a factory team now backing him he can get his KTM up to his wishes. Will be interesting to see if he can cope in Aragon with tyre wear and the bike's weight change during the race. Good luck, Mika!

Bradley has just lost his job, I think. 

Tomco, Kallio hasn't done much in the past? Nearly being world champion should be regarded as doing something, don't you think? He is obviously a very talented guy otherwise he wouldn't have got the job of test rider at KTM. Also, why do you feel it's easier to get a result if you do 2 one off rides than if you do a complete season? That doesn't make sense. Smith might be a lot better than he is showing on the KTM, as they may just be incompatable. I honestly believe it will be in both parties interests though if he moves on.

Kallio spanked Smith hard at Aragon.  To come in 12th (being the new guy) while the KTM-regular Smith came in 19th.  Ouch!  

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