Austria shows I’m not “too old” for MotoGP return
KTM test rider Mika Kallio says his 10th place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix in his only second MotoGP outing of the season proves he deserves a full-time premier class comeback.
Two-time 125cc runner-up Kallio raced in MotoGP in 2009 and 2010 with Pramac Ducati, but had to return to Moto2 in 2011 after two muted campaigns in the top division.
He stayed in Moto2 until 2015, becoming runner-up behind Tito Rabat in 2014, before he signed with KTM as the Austrian firm’s lead test rider for its new MotoGP project.
While KTM chose Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith as its two full-time riders for 2017, Kallio raced the RC16 bike for the first time in the 2016 season finale at Valencia.
He was also given two wildcard entries this year, first taking 16th at the Sachsenring before scoring an impressive 10th place at the Red Bull Ring.
The 34-year-old was overjoyed with his result, and was satisfied that he could prove suggestions regarding him being too old for the series wrong.
“For me personally I always believed in me that I can do good race results,” said Kallio. “But in the paddock there was always a little bit everybody thinking ‘you are too old, you are 34’ or something like this.
“Now I could really demonstrate that the speed is there, the consistency is there and I can finish the race in a good place and that is important.”
Kallio is among six riders being considered for a seat at Avintia Ducati next year, and the Finn reckons his 10th place has come at just the right time for rider market negotiations.
He has also expressed interest in taking part in more races as a wildcard rider this year, but said specific plans have yet to be defined.
“Of course also for my future what happened is good to demonstrate everyone I can be there,” said Kallio.
“If somebody asked for me [to race this year], I would like to do it, but at the moment we were planning just these two races, Sachsenring and now here.
“I need to talk with the KTM guys about what they’d like to do, if there is any chance we can organise one more race somewhere. At the moment I don’t know, we need to see.”
Additional reporting by Toni Boerner