Aoyama Fifth In KTMs Final 250 GP In Valencia-Kallio Off On Final Lap
Mika Kallio a final lap faller in KTM’s last 250 GP
Red Bull KTM factory rider Hiroshi Aoyama put in a brave and determined ride to finish fifth in Sunday’s 250 cc GP in Valencia to conclude a proud chapter in road racing history for the orange bikes “Made in Austria”.
Teammate Mika Kallio was not so lucky. After putting in a do-or-die dash for final victory in a display of riding that illustrated the determination, skill and passion of the Finnish rider, Kallio in hot pursuit of leader Marco Simoncelli, crashed out of second position only a few corners from the finish line. He got back on the bike and crossed the finish line in eleventh place. Kallio was treated for abrasions on the fourth finger of his left hand in the medical centre but luckily, he escaped without any other injuries.
Even though Aoyama lost engine power early on in the race due to a small problem on one of the two cylinders, the 27-year-old Japanese rider pushed his bike to the limit all along the way, and managed to defend his strong position in the second group of riders. Repsol KTM rider Julian Simon had, together with Kallio, dominated the race in the early stages, swapping the lead back and forth between them. But as the race progressed Simon dropped back through the order and finally was forced to retire in front of his home crowd when his engine started to lose water and overheated.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Red Bull KTM 250 – eleventh)
“Under normal circumstances, I would have been able to follow the front runners for sure, but unfortunately, I had a little problem with the engine so I couldn’t fight for the podium today. But even though I am still proud of what we achieved together. We built this bike as a team, and the milestones and memories are unforgettable. To celebrate victory with KTM at my home race in Motegi in two years ago was one of the great highlights of my career and for our young team. So was our double victory at the German Sachsenring last year, which is kind of a home race for KTM. All in all, we celebrated four victories and had a great time together, and I want to thank my team, the factory and our sponsors for their support and trust. I will always regard these three years with KTM as a very special time!”
Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM 250 – eleventh place)
“I was sliding with the rear on the last lap and lost some ground on Marco Simoncelli but I still believed in my chance to win the race because I knew I was better on the brakes and faster through the last corner of the track. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that far. In only the next corner after my slide, the front of the bike closed and I crashed. It’s a real shame because after some late modifications this morning, my bike felt really good, and I was immediately able to push right from the start. Simon and I were first and second for quite some time, end even later on in the race, when Simoncelli moved to the front, I was always able to catch up. I really wanted to win this race for KTM and for myself, but it wasn’t meant to be!”
Julian Simon (Repsol KTM 250 – did not finish)
“We were strong and competitive today and a podium finish would have been within reach for sure. But unfortunately, my engine started to lose water, and the temperature started to rise. Eventually it collapsed. It’s a pity, but things like that happen in racing. Despite our bad luck today, I want to thank my team and KTM for their great work and support this season. We kept getting stronger from race to race and today, even though it only lasted a few laps, we showed how fast we really were!”
Harald Bartol (Technical Director)
“Even though everybody could see how fast we were today, this certainly was not the finish of the season and of our 250 cc campaign that we had hoped for. I am sorry for Mika, but I am also sorry for the entire team. They really deserved another celebration today.”
KTM has already announced that in the coming season they will only contest the 125 cc class. The decision was promoted by the general uncertainty of the future of the 250 cc class, which is to be phased out within the next seasons.
Results final 250 cc GP 2008 season
1. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, Gilera, 43:29.003
2. Yuki Takahashi, Japan, Honda, 43:34.167
3. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Aprilia, 34:37.651
4. Roberto Locatelli, Italy, Gilera, 43:44.608
5. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, KTM, 43:49.994
11. Mika Kallio, Finland, KTM, 44:13.068
DNF Julian Simon, Repsol KTM 250 cc
Final standings at the end of 2008 season
1. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, Gilera, 281 points
2. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Aprilia, 244
3. Mika Kallio, Finland, KTM, 196
4. Alex Debon, Spain, Aprilia, 176
5. Yuki Takahashi, Japan, Honda, 167
7. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, KTM, 139
10. Julian Simon, Repsol KTM 250 cc, 109