Kallio: Top 10 finish 'like a victory' for KTM
15 August 2017 – KTM test rider Mika Kallio labelled his top 10 finish as "like a victory" for the manufacturer as he displayed encouraging pace at its home event in Austria.
Kallio, afforded his second wildcard of the campaign, surged up the order to round out the top 10 at the Red Bull Ring, claiming his first points finish in the premier class since 2010.
Kallio praised the progress made by KTM over the campaign so far, having felt that the team was able to battle with midfield opponents on merit.
"I think it was almost like a victory for us, to be top 10 for KTM at our home race with lots of spectators and guests," reflected Kallio.
"[It was] something that was the absolute maximum that we could do from our side as I thought before the race I have a realistic chance to get some points.
"I managed to make a great start and got some places early on in the first corners.
"I could stay with guys around me giving me more boost to push and push even though this track looks on paper not so difficult it is very hard physically, particularly on the brakes.
"That makes a difference as I haven't raced so much recently so if I'm racing more often I could be even closer."
Kallio has not raced full-time since his final Moto2 campaign in 2015, having acted as KTM's test rider, but feels that his performance demonstrated his credentials.
"It was one of the best races I've done in MotoGP as when you look at the gap, this was the closest I've ever been to the winner in MotoGP at just 19.7 seconds back," he said.
"After 28 laps this is a huge step forward for the KTM MotoGP project and I'm very proud to be part of it.
"This was something where I can demonstrate my speed is still there even if I've been the test rider for a while and not done too many races in the last two years."
Bradley Smith finished outside of the points in 18th position while Pol Espargaró retired early on after suffering a rear brake sensor, labelled a "one in a thousand chance failure" by KTM.