MotoGP: Kallio out to gain at Smith’s expense?
One of the most impressive rides of the weekend's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring was that of KTM test rider Mika Kallio, who took his wildcard machine to only the firm’s second ever top ten finish in the satellite class – and staked out his claim for a more permanent seat at the table in the process.
Making no bones about his desire to return to the premiere class in the near future and aided by the news that MotoGP will have a round in his native Finland from 2019, he admitted after the impressive performance that his goal all along when he took on the job of development rider at KTM was a full time return to the top level.
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“When I came to KTM, I said that it was the way that I could come back to MotoGP, that I would like to be a race rider in this class. This result demonstrates what I can do, and it helps a lot, but I don’t know if it is enough. I’ve been speaking to a few teams, although we know that there are not many places available. But at the moment I don’t have any clear picture of what’s available.
“I need to speak with KTM too and to see what their plan is for me in the future. The clear option is to stay here, and if I can find a place to ride I’d like to stay. I have a long history with them and they are good people.”
And that option could well come at the expense of Bradley Smith, with some rumours suggesting that a clear swap between test rider and racer could be on the cards if the Oxfordshire native doesn’t find more pace from the RC16 in the near future.
Occasionally able to show strong moments on the bike, he nonetheless has yet to beat teammate pol Espargaró in a race, instead bringing home only eight points from 11 races to the Spaniard’s 21, and finishing Sunday’s race in a distant 18th, some 18 seconds behind Kallio.