The image is from Wikipedia Commons
Kallio (front) at the 2015 Catalan Grand Prix.
|Born|| (1982-11-08) 8 November 1982
|Current team||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (test rider)|
Mika Kallio (born 8 November 1982) is a Finnish Grand Prix motorcycle racer. He debuted in the 125cc World Championship with the Finnish rookie team Ajo Motorsport in 2001 and was awarded the "Rookie of the Year" in 2002. After moving to Red Bull KTM during the 2003 season, he finished runner-up in the class in 2005 and 2006.
In his first year with KTM in the 250cc class, Kallio took two wins and finished seventh. In 2008, he led the championship throughout the first half of the season, eventually having to settle for third place. For the 2009 season, he moved to the MotoGP (800cc) class, racing on a Ducati Desmosedici GP9 for Ducati's satellite team Pramac Racing where he finished 15th in his first season in the top class and obtained the "Rookie of the Year" award. However 2010 was less successful, struggling with injury and lack of confidence, resulting in a lowly 17th.
Kallio looked to rediscover his form, competing in the Moto2 World Championship for the Marc VDS Racing Team over the next four seasons, riding a Suter in 2011, but would end the first season in 16th. A switch to the Kalex frame from 2012 led to marked improvement in results over the next few seasons. The Finn finished 2012 in 6th place, improved to 4th overall in 2013, and later mounted a strong title challenge throughout 2014, eventually having to settle for runners up position.
2015 saw a switch to the Italtrans team, but, disappointing results led to a mid season switch to the QMMF Racing Team for the remaining five rounds. In 2016, the Finn took time out from full-time racing, returning to KTM, to become their lead test rider for the then-new MotoGP project, commencing in 2017. Kallio suffered a serious knee injury at the 2018 German motorcycle Grand Prix.
Born in Valkeakoski, Kallio started racing in 1997 and won the Finnish championship in road racing with further success in 1999 and 2000. During 2000, he also became the Nordic champion after finishing second in the previous year.
While Kallio pursued his road racing goals, the Finn has also scored plenty of success in ice racing back home in Finland, having achieved the Finnish motorcycle ice racing championship in 2000, 2004 and 2005 in the 125cc class. At 500cc level, Kallio also won the title in 2004 and 2006.
125cc World Championship (2001–2006)
Kallio made his debut in the 125cc World Championship as a wildcard rider at the 2001 German Grand Prix. Continuing with Ajo Motorsport and the Honda RS125R for a full season in 2002, he finished as the Rookie of the Year. Halfway through the 2003 season, Kallio switched to Red Bull KTM, KTM's factory team. He immediately took his career-best fourth place in Czech Republic. The highlight of 2003 was his first-ever class podium, a second place at Sepang behind Dani Pedrosa.
After a 2004 season filled with bike reliability issues, Kallio took his first championship pole position and victory at the second round of the 2005 season at Estoril. He went on to take seven more poles and three more wins and lost the world title by just five points to Thomas Lüthi. He lost five points at the fourth-last Grand Prix in Qatar when his KTM teammate, Gábor Talmácsi, pulled out from behind the slipstream and passed him on the last few metres of the race to take the win by 0.017 seconds. Kallio had started from pole position and led every lap of the race and was not pushing on the home straight anymore, as Talmácsi had been ordered to stay back by the team because he was not a title contender. Talmácsi was fired after the season finale at Valencia.
In 2006, Kallio was again a challenger for the 125 cc title. Although he produced his best season to date, the young Finn was outshone by Spain's Álvaro Bautista and while he tried to hang onto the Spaniard, he was forced to settle for the runner-up spot once again, although he did finish a full 65 points ahead of the third position. Kallio scored three victories, four pole positions and 11 podiums during the 2006 campaign. At the end of the year, viewers of the Finnish motorsport television series Ruutulippu voted Kallio the Finnish Motorsportsman of the Year for the second year running. He collected 33.1% of all votes and pipped enduro world champion Samuli Aro, WRC runner-up Marcus Grönholm and F1 star Kimi Räikkönen.
250cc World Championship (2007–2008)
For the 2007 season, Kallio moved up to KTM's squad in the 250cc category alongside Japan's Hiroshi Aoyama. After a difficult start to the season with mechanical woes at Qatar and Spain, Kallio would consistently be fighting around the top six positions. The turning point of the season would be at Germany, where Kallio took his debut pole position and podium finish in the class for come home in 2nd behind teammate Aoyama to cap a fine 1–2 for KTM. A third place followed at the Czech Republic, although a nasty highside at San Marino, and more mechanical problems at Portugal were to slow his progress.
However the Finn would capture his first 250cc class victory at the rain-soaked Japanese race, and later added to his tally at the final round in Valencia, fending off Alex de Angelis on the final lap. He ended the season with two pole positions, two wins, four podiums and two fastest laps to place him seventh in the standings with 157 points.
Kallio remained at KTM for 2008. A strong start to the season saw a third place at the season opener under the floodlights of Qatar. A fortunate win at Jerez, Spain after title rivals Álvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli crashed out together on the final lap. Another solid third place at Portugal, before continuing his strong run with a masterful victory in China under tricky conditions. Kallio had built up a strong lead in the championship but his luck would soon change. After difficult races in France and Italy, the latter hampered by clutch issues at the start of the race, his bad luck continued in Catalunya when his bike broke down, and almost crashed on his return to the pits. His healthy lead in the standings had simply vanished.
His woes seemed to continue at Donington Park after qualifying only 14th. However, he passed one rider after another to jump up right to the head of the field to take a surprise victory. It were to be his final win in 250s. The KTM riders could not keep up with the pace of Piaggio riders and his title challenge was over in Australia, having been passed by eventual champion Simoncelli and Bautista a few races before. He did however make a long-awaited return to the podium in third place, beating off fellow KTM rider Julián Simón to the line.
A forgettable race in Malaysia was followed by an accident in the final round at Valencia. Having been the only rider to keep pace with the new world champion, Simoncelli, Kallio was pushing to the limit to keep up and launch an attack on the final lap. However, he crashed halfway round the final lap and slowly came home in an 11th place. He wrapped up the year to finish third overall with 196pts. It included three victories, three more podiums and two fastest laps, although he did not score a single pole position.
MotoGP World Championship (2009–2010)
On 19 October 2008, Kallio was announced as part of the new Pramac Racing lineup for 2009 in Moto GP alongside Italian Niccolò Canepa. Kallio was provided with the latest spec Ducati Desmosedici GP9 ensuring equality for the satellite teams and the factory squad.
His MotoGP career started brightly with two eighth places from the opening two rounds at Qatar and Motegi. During much of the season however would be blighted with several accidents, most notably from strong positions. At the Dutch TT at Assen, Kallio crashed out of sixth place and burnt his finger down to the bone, losing the top section. He missed the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but was back in action at the Sachsenring in Germany, racing with a special custom-made glove to accommodate a bandage.
On 10 August 2009, when Casey Stoner announced that he would miss the next three races due to health problems, Kallio was called in to replace Stoner at the Ducati Marlboro team. Once his stint in place of Stoner was over, Kallio returned to Pramac for the final four races of the season. He continued to show his talents with three more top ten finishes, although he missed out on a potential top six finish at Estoril after another front end accident. Overall though, it had been a positive debut season in the top class and his points tally rewarded him with the title of "Rookie of the Year".
The 2010 season would prove to be an extremely difficult season for Kallio. His new teammate Aleix Espargaró, gave Kallio a harder time and would usually match or outpace him. Kallio would only pick up just two top ten finishes throughout the whole season, an impressive seventh at Jerez from the back of the grid and ninth at Laguna Seca. But on a whole, it was a general disappointment.
On 17 October 2010, Kallio announced that he would not be competing in the final two rounds of the 2010 season due to a shoulder injury that he had been riding with, since Le Mans in May. A lack of confidence as well with the Ducati also contributed to his lack of results. As a result, Kallio and Pramac parted company as he had not been offered a 2011 contract by the team.
Moto2 World Championship (2011–2015)
On 7 November 2010, it had been announced that Kallio would move down a category to Moto2, teaming up with the Suter-run Marc VDS Racing Team alongside British rider Scott Redding for 2011. The season proved to be a difficult one for himself and the team as both Kallio and Redding struggled for results on board the Suter. Mika's opening half of 2011 saw just a single points scoring finish in the first 9 races. However, the second half of the season saw results steadily improve, as the Finn racked up points in eight of the final nine races. The main highlight was securing 2nd place at the final round of the season at Valencia, after a close battle with Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter in damp conditions. It was Kallio's first podium for three years. The result was enough to earn the Finn a second season with Marc VDS, as he rounded up the year in 16th position, with 61 points.
During the off season, Marc VDS ditched the Suter frames, in favour of Kalex for the upcoming 2012 season. The change resulted in a much more competitive season for the team and Kallio. After scoring seven top 10 finishes from the opening seven rounds, the Finn then achieved a strong 2nd place at the Sachsenring, after a race long battle with eventual Moto2 champion Marc Marquez and Alex de Angelis. Marquez edged away in the final laps towards victory, leaving Kallio and de Angelis to fight for second. De Angelis attempted a pass at the final corner, but the Finn calmly retook the position, cutting back underneath the San Marino rider. It was to be his only podium of the season, although Kallio would continue to produce strong results throughout the remainder of the season.
Two fourth places at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Misano World Circuit would be his highest finishes in the second half of the season. One other notable highlight was at the Malaysian round. In typically tropical wet conditions, Kallio had to take avoiding action from a separate crash on the opening lap, skating across the gravel and dropping all the way down the order to 29th place. The Finn put in a determined display and produced a superb comeback in the mixed conditions, to finish the race in 7th place, which later became 6th, after Anthony West's disqualification.
Such was the level of his consistency throughout 2012, Kallio only failed to score points at just two events. In Japan, he had been running comfortably inside the top 10 until he had an off track moment into the gravel, dropping down to 20th, before recovering to just finish out of the points in 16th. The other was an unfortunate incident, being taken out by Simone Corsi at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with just two laps remaining, while fighting for 6th place. It was to be his only retirement in 2012, ending a run of 23 consecutive race finishes. Overall it was a positive season for the Finn, as he ended the year in 6th position with 130 points, more than double the amount of the previous season.
Kallio remained at Marc VDS for a third season in 2013. Carrying on the progression made from the previous two seasons, Kallio started the season well, with a fifth place at the season opener in Qatar. The early rounds saw two podium finishes, a third place at the brand new Circuit of the Americas and second place in France, behind teammate Scott Redding, earning Marc VDS their first one-two finish in Moto2. With the exception of crashing out at third round in Jerez, the Finnish rider would finish every race that season, all inside the points.
His strong form led to a major break through, as he would go onto secure his first victory in Moto2, at the Czech Republic, from fourth on the grid. Coming out on top of a race long battle involving Japanese rider, Takaaki Nakagami and former 125cc title rival, Thomas Luthi. It was Kallio's first victory for five years. His good form remained intact during the remaining races, as he continued to rack up healthy points finishes. Several more first time Moto2 achievements were soon to follow. Kallio earned his first fastest lap in the class, in Malaysia, on his way to finishing fourth. While at the penultimate round in Motegi, he ended his long wait for a pole position, mastering the changeable conditions - his first since Valencia 2007. On race day, he would go onto take his fourth podium in 2013, finishing in second place, behind newly crowned champion, Pol Espargaro. At the seasons end, Kallio ended 2013 in fourth position, with 188 points. one victory, four podiums, one pole position and fastest lap.
With Espargaro and Redding moving up to MotoGP, Kallio went into the 2014 Moto2 season as one of the pre-season favourites for the title. He was joined alongside Spanish rider Esteve Rabat for a fourth season at Marc VDS. His quest for the title began well, as he recovered from a nasty crash in Qualifying, to finish in third place at Qatar, but was later promoted to second, after Nakagami's bike was disqualified on technical grounds. Two solid points scoring races followed, before scoring his first pole position and race win of the season, at Circuito de Jerez, leading from start to finish. The Finn backed up his Spanish success, by immediately winning the next race at Le Mans, his first ever back to back victories, in his entire career.
The next two races yielded further points, before embarking on a six race podium streak, starting at the TT Circuit Assen. The Finn recovered to finish in third after an early off track moment in the wet conditions. In Germany, Kallio was narrowly pipped to victory by Dominique Aegerter on the final lap after a race long battle with the Swiss. However, Kallio would finally get his reward, with a flawless performance at Indianapolis, taking the full house of pole position, race victory, fastest lap and led every lap of the race. His victory was his 16th of his career, surpassing the late Jarno Saarinen's win tally of 15, to become Finland's most successful race winner in MotoGP history. The points gap between himself and Rabat had now narrowed to just seven points.
A string of three consecutive second places followed at Brno, Silverstone circuit and Misano. Silverstone in particular produced a hard-fought final lap showdown between himself and Rabat for victory, but ultimately Rabat won the battle of the teammates. It would prove to be the decisive moment in the championship, as the momentum swung towards Rabat in the final third of the season. On 1 September 2014, Marc VDS announced Álex Márquez would join the team in 2015 alongside Rabat, leaving Kallio to seek employment elsewhere for next season.
Try as he might, Kallio pressed on and secured his third pole position at Misano, but once again come race day had to settle for second behind Rabat. By the final five races, Kallio would only secure one more podium, another second place in Malaysia, as Rabat scored enough points to seal the title. The final race at Valencia saw his only retirement of the season, as the Finn was slammed from behind, by Maverick Vinales on the opening lap. The incident eliminated both riders, ending Mika's run of 31 consecutive points finishes, a career best. Nonetheless, Kallio clinched second place overall in the standings, concluding the year with a personal best of 288 points scored. Followed up by three sets of wins, pole positions and fastest laps.
On 26 September 2014, a contract was confirmed between Kallio and the Italtrans team for 2015 Moto2 season. The Finnish veteran would be partnered with Italian Franco Morbidelli. After a highly successful 2014, 2015 would mark a total polar opposite in performance and results. Initially the season started solidly, with three top eight results from the opening three rounds. But a fourth place at Argentina would be the high point of what would develop into a very difficult season for the Finnish rider. Four of the next seven races resulted in retirements. Indianapolis briefly offered a glimmer of hope after qualifying on the front row, until a coming together with Sam Lowes ended his race, ensuring more disappointment. Despite the best efforts from both Kallio and Italtrans to find a solution to difficulties Kallio faced with the 2015 Kalex, there was seemingly little hope of improvement. After the Misano race, it was decided on 14 September 2015, that both parties would mutually cancel the remainder of the contract and part company immediately.
Days later, the QMMF Racing Team announced that Kallio would be joining the team for the rest of the season, on board a Speed Up, replacing Anthony West. Kallio finished inside the points for all five races with the team, to wrap-up 2015 on a slightly better note, to an otherwise very unsatisfactory season, down in 15th position, with just 72 points.
Return to MotoGP (2016–present)
Despite missing out on a full-time race return for the 2017 season, Kallio would at least be rewarded for his testing efforts. A wildcard race entry was granted at the 2016 finale in Valencia, marking his first race back in the premier class, since 2010.
For the 2017 season, Kallio continued testing duties with KTM. The team initially handed the Finn two wildcard entries, at the German and Austrian rounds. Having narrowly missed out on a points finish at the Sachsenring, Mika produced an impressive display at KTM's home race in Austria, coming through the field to finish as the team's leading rider in 10th place, well ahead of teammate, Bradley Smith. Not only was it the team's second top 10 finish of the season, but the result was also the first time a KTM bike had managed to finish a premier class race in less than 20 seconds from the race winner.
After his superb ride in Austria, KTM announced Kallio would be handed his third wildcard of the season at Aragon. Once more, the Finn produced a strong showing throughout the event. Having automatically qualified through into Q2 in 12th position as the fastest KTM, he would backup his qualifying efforts by coming home in 11th, just behind teammate Espargaro, but some 19 seconds ahead of Smith. After Aragon, the Finn was initially unsure whether he would receive any more race opportunities in 2017. But on 28 September 2017, he was granted a fourth and final wildcard ride at the season finale in Valencia. Kallio's performances from his wildcard outings put him in contention for a possible full-time ride in place of Smith for 2018. However, on 11 October 2017, KTM ended speculation surrounding their rider lineup, electing to keep Smith as the team's race rider for next season, with Kallio continuing his role as KTM's test rider, with plans for more wildcards.
Kallio suffered a serious knee injury when racing as a scheduled wildcard entry at the Sachsenring, Germany round in July 2018, disrupting the KTM test programme, causing the factory to contract Randy De Puniet as a replacement test rider for the remainder of 2018, and to end any future test-rider entries as presenting an unacceptable risk to their plans. KTM MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro was also injured soon after.
In 2019 he replaced Johan Zarco mid-season after Zarco broke contract.
He has an older brother named Vesa, who is also a motorcycle racer. Finnish software house Tracebit also produced a mobile phone game based around Kallio, called 'Mika Kallio GP'.
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
|2001||125cc||Honda||Team Red Devil Honda||2||0||0||0||0||0||NC||–|
|2002||125cc||Honda||Red Devil Honda||16||0||0||0||0||78||11th||–|
|KTM||Red Bull KTM|
|2004||125cc||KTM||Red Bull KTM||16||0||1||0||0||86||10th||–|
|2005||125cc||KTM||Red Bull KTM GP125||16||4||10||8||3||237||2nd||–|
|2006||125cc||KTM||Red Bull KTM GP125||16||3||11||4||1||262||2nd||–|
|2007||250cc||KTM||Red Bull KTM 250||17||2||4||2||2||157||7th||–|
|2008||250cc||KTM||Red Bull KTM 250||16||3||6||0||2||196||3rd||–|
|Ducati Marlboro Team|
|2011||Moto2||Suter||Marc VDS Racing Team||16||0||1||0||0||61||16th||–|
|2012||Moto2||Kalex||Marc VDS Racing Team||17||0||1||0||0||130||6th||–|
|2013||Moto2||Kalex||Marc VDS Racing Team||17||1||4||1||1||188||4th||–|
|2014||Moto2||Kalex||Marc VDS Racing Team||18||3||10||3||3||289||2nd||–|
|2015||Moto2||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||18||0||0||0||0||72||15th||–|
|Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team|
|2016||MotoGP||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1||0||0||0||0||0||NC||–|
|2017||MotoGP||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||4||0||0||0||0||11||24th||–|
|2018||MotoGP||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||2||0||0||0||0||6||25th||–|
|2019||MotoGP||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||6||0||0||0||0||7||26th||–|
|Class||Seasons||1st GP||1st Pod||1st Win||Race||Win||Podiums||Pole||FLap||Pts||WChmp|
|125cc||2001–2006||2001 Germany||2003 Malaysia||2005 Portugal||82||7||23||12||4||751||0|
|250cc||2007–2008||2007 Qatar||2007 Germany||2007 Japan||33||5||10||2||4||353||0|
|MotoGP||2009–2010, 2016–present||2009 Qatar||45||0||0||0||0||138||0|
|Moto2||2011–2015||2011 Qatar||2011 Valencia||2013 Czech Republic||86||4||16||4||4||740||0|
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
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- KTM tester Kallio to get five wildcard races in 2018 Motorsport.com, 5 December 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018
- Dani Pedrosa, Jonas Folger and Bradley Smith in talks with KTM about test riding duties in MotoGP 2019 - but wild-cards set to end Crash.net, 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018
- KTM test rider Mika Kallio will miss his next planned MotoGP wildcard appearance in Austria after undergoing surgery on his knee Motorsport.com, 2 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018
- "Our Games". Tracebit. Tracebit Ltd. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
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