Red Bull KTM rider and master tactician Mika Kallio rode a cool headed race at the 250 cc Grand Prix on the Valencia circuit Sunday to snatch victory in the final laps of the last 250 cc world championship race of the season.
Kallio, no stranger to the 125cc podium in Valencia thus wrapped up his rookie season in 250 in style. His victory was a season third for KTM in 250cc. Kallio also won in Japan and team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama in Germany where he and Kallio gave KTM their first ever 1-2 podium in 250 cc. Between them, Kallio and Aoyama delivered a satisfying eight podiums in the current season.
The 24-year old Finn got away well and in the first half of the race tucked into the leading group, oscillating between third and fourth and waited for his opportunity to take the lead. He put in his fastest lap in lap 20 clocking 1:35,659 for a new lap record. Then, on the penultimate lap, Kallio overtook race leader Alex de Angelis, and pulled away to win with a margin of almost four tenths of a seconds. After the race, Kallio said his bike became progressively easier to handle as he used up fuel during the 27 laps. He said although he dropped down the order in the opening phase he was confident that he would be able to catch the front of the pack as the race progressed.
"Getting past Alvaro Bautista wasn't an easy task. I tried many things but I couldn't find a way past. He was very fast and also very good on the brakes. But then he crashed and I had a clear track ahead of me. I kept going, produced good lap times and saw that I was able to catch de Angelis. I took the first opportunity to overtake him. I waited for him to respond on the last lap but I had already opened up a little bit of a gap and won." Kallio said he was now very confident for next season and underlined that the team would be chasing the 250 cc title in 2008.
What was a glory day for Kallio was less successful for Aoyama, who didn't quite have the set-up to stay with the front runners. He struggled in most corners of the Ricardo Tormo track and finished in tenth position.
"I couldn't go so fast in the corners. I lost time on every lap, and it was very stressful to keep on pushing. We couldn't find the right set-up this weekend, and even though I was pushing for all 27 laps, I couldn't go as fast as I wanted. It was a handling and a feeling problem more than a tyre grip problem. But I believe that we can improve for next year."
Kallio finishes the season in seventh place with 157 championship points, just three points behind Aoyama in sixth place.