The first-ever MotoGP laps of Finland's KymiRing circuit took place in wet conditions on Monday.

A test rider from each of the six manufacturers is present this week to try out the new venue, which is set to join the world championship in 2020.

But the rain saw a change to the planned schedule, with the MotoGP action delayed until midday and concluding at 18:00.

Appropriately, local star Mika Kallio was the first person to leave the pits.

"I think for everyone if you can race at home it’s something special absolutely, and I was the first guy out with the MotoGP machine today so that’s cool to be the first to make those laps," said the KTM rider.

"Some parts of the track are quite slow, at the moment and especially in these conditions and new tarmac, with water…it was quite slippery all the time and there we couldn’t quite get the right feeling. But hopefully tomorrow it’ll be dry and we’ll get more of an impression of how the racetrack is.”

Next out was Aprilia's Bradley Smith, who later became the first person to break the two-minute barrier.

The Englishman, who will take part in this weekend's British Grand Prix as a stand-in rider at the Petronas Moto2 team, described the circuit as "very different to anything we’ve seen before."

The KymiRing has 18 corners packed into its 4.6km length, most of them during the second half of the lap, and Smith felt the twisty nature of the circuit will probably suit the Moto2 and Moto3 machines better than MotoGP.

But he added that a world championship should feature all kinds of tracks, citing Silverstone - which also has 18 corners, but is 1.3km longer - as the other extreme.

"[It's] quite tight and twisty and a little bit slow in places, but we also have [tracks] like Silverstone where it’s flat-out everywhere. Sometimes it’s good to have a complete different end of the spectrum," Smith said.

"Also we have three different categories! It’s not just for MotoGP and I think those smaller bikes will really fit this race track. Let’s see tomorrow. There are a lot of off-camber corners here which makes it difficult for the riders, it’s a technical challenge.”

Honda test rider Stefan Bradl was the first MotoGP rider to fall at the new circuit, tumbling at the final corner while continuing work on the carbon-reinforced chassis.

Meanwhile, Ducati’s Michele Pirro and Suzuki's Sylvain Guintoli both picked the faster opening part of the lap as their favourite sections.

"The first part [is] fast and really nice," said Pirro, describing the second part as "slow but interesting."

"Turn 1 to Turn 3 I like a lot, you go down then up into the braking before the straight," said Guintoli.

There is a near 20-metre difference between the lowest and highest points of the track, which is located around 130km north of Helsinki.

Yamaha's Jonas Folger completed the Monday line-up, with all six due to return on Tuesday, when the track will be open for premier-class action from 11:00 to 18:00.

Among those excited to see MotoGP machines on track in Finland for the first time since 1982 was Moto3 and Moto2 team manager Aki Ajo.

"We've been dreaming for years about this, to have this kind of track and to have the chance to have a MotoGP race in Finland," Ajo said. "It was a special feeling for me this morning when I woke up in my own bed before a MotoGP test, which doesn't happen very often!

"But seriously, it's really important to have first track action here, now is the time to see what they need to do to finalise everything here so we can have a great race."

The exact timing of next year's race is still to be officially announced, but a mid-summer date is widely expected. Should all existing rounds remain in place, as now looks likely, there will thus be 20 races in 2020.

"It’s a big dream to have MotoGP bikes in Finland, my heart has been pounding," said Tapio Nevala, President of the Finnish Motorcycle Federation. "A MotoGP race is important for Nordic motorsport, as well as this whole area.”

Comments

Loading Comments...