This weekend’s Portimao finale will see Kallio making his first grand prix appearance since replacing Johann Zarco for the last six races of 2019, having been called-up in place of Iker Lecuona, who is unable to ride for Tech3 after being diagnosed with Covid.
Part of the KTM MotoGP project from the start, Kallio shouldered most of the development work until Pedrosa’s arrival from Repsol Honda at the end of 2018. A 31-time MotoGP winner, Pedrosa’s input has been widely credited for turning the RC16 into a race-winning machine.
“We knew the bike would improve and there are many guys working on the bike,” said Kallio, who won 16 races in the 125, 250 and Moto2 classes, as well as spending two full MotoGP seasons on a satellite Ducati.
“Of course, it was really good when Dani came to the team and we could get a lot of information from him and he has a good reference from Honda. For sure it is a big part of the tests at the moment: Dani’s job.
“But from my side it was really good to see that all the things I wanted to improve on the bike and how I felt on the bike – what were the good and weak points – basically he had similar ideas and similar options that he wanted to change.
“Somehow that also proves to me that we were on the correct way even before Dani.”
While Pedrosa has done the bulk of KTM testing this season, he has so far turned down any chance to race and Kallio remains the factory’s nominated replacement rider.
“It is not an easy situation for sure to come back like this. This year I did not make that many laps and not many days on this bike. Let’s say that we’ll start quite far behind every other guys,” Kallio admitted.
“Anyway, I believe I have been in this paddock many years and I have a lot of experience. I guess that somehow I need to handle it and manage in a good way. It’s not ideal, especially for race distance and this track will be very physical and demanding and complicated even to learn. It is a big challenge for me.
“Basically we need to start with an open mind and see how I feel. We already have a good base set-up from the other guys. Step-by-step. At least we have some more time on Friday,” he added, referring to the extended free practice sessions.
Pedrosa was the only KTM test rider at last month’s Portimao test.