Aoyama beats the heat and celebrates second for KTM in Malaysia

2008-10-19 04:23
Red Bull KTM rider Hiroshi Aoyama beat tropical heat with air temperatures up to 41 degrees and rising water temperatures on his KTM 250 FRR and battled his way to second place in Sunday's 250 cc Malaysian Grand Prix.

Aoyama's strong performance was a tribute to his skill and professional approach to racing after only just learning that KTM would not be contesting the 250 cc category in future seasons. Hiroshi drew praise from his team's technical director Harald Bartol, who described his ride as "fantastic". The 26-year-old from Chiba, Japan, who won last year's race at Sepang, stormed into the lead on the seventh lap and defended his top spot for three laps before Spaniard Alvaro Bautista swept past. Aoyama hung onto Bautista and only lost contact to the eventual race winner when he ran into increasing front tyre grip problems towards the end of the race.

No luck for Kallio and Julian Simon
Aoyama's Red Bulll KTM teammate Mika Kallio and Spanish Repsol KTM rider Julian Simon weren't so lucky. Kallio had a strong start and even lead the field into the first corner, but then noticed a clutch problem and dropped back to fourth, fifth and sixth position. The 25-year-old Finn had just found a way to ride around the problem and gained speed again when his engine seized on the back straight. Julian Simon also led the race on the third lap and looked set for a podium finish when he too was sidelined with a similar problem just after mid-race. "That's racing," said the Spaniard. "Now we will give it all again to end the season on a high note at my home Grand Prix in Valencia next week."

Hiroshi Aoyama (Red Bull KTM 250 - second)
"This was very tough race. It was difficult to manage engine power and tyre grip in the tropical heat and I'm very happy that I got through this battle with a strong result. My start was not so bad, but then I had a little scare with the front tyre and dropped back a few positions. But I managed to recover and to take first position for a while. Then I had a great battle with Alvaro when we both pushed to the maximum. It was exciting and fun to ride, but also exhausting. It was only on the last five laps, I lost a little bit of speed because my front tyre started to lose grip, so I couldn't challenge Bautista any more and had to settle for second. But all in all, we had a very good weekend. It's unfortunate that we won't be able to continue our KTM campaign in the 250 cc class next year, but I have many good memories of great races, good fights and remarkable technical progress that we've made over the three years that we've been working together. I want to thank KT M, allof my mechanics and all the sponsors for a great experience, and I hope we will have another reason to celebrate at the final showdown in Valencia!"

Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM 250 - did not finish)
"My start was good, but in the first corner, I immediately noticed that my clutch was broken. I lost a few places and it was difficult to get up to speed again, especially in the braking zones when the problem was the most obvious. I slowly found ways to ride around the problem and do competitive lap times again. My confidence returned and I thought a good result was still within reach. But then I noticed something strange happening in the engine on the back straight, and when I braked for the following corner, the engine seized. We think a bearing might have broken, and some small piece ended up in the piston and caused the failure. Now second place in the championship is out of reach. Our goal is now to secure third position with a good result at Valencia!"

Harald Bartol (Technical Director)
"Hiroshi rode a fantastic race and showed his true skills and a lot of determination today. It could have been a great day for all three KTM 250 riders, but unfortunately, the bikes of Kallio and Simon both seized. We think it was the same problem on both engines, with some foreign object that got caught in the wrong place, but obviously we won't know exactly before opening the engines and thoroughly examining what happened!"

Results 250 cc
1. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Aprilia, 42:56.428
2. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, Red Bull KTM 250, 42:59.014
3. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, Gilera, 43:04.771
4. Yuki Takahashi, Japan, Honda, 43:07.460
5. Alex Espargaro, Spain, Aprilia, 43:10.274
Julian Simon, Repsol KTM 250 cc
Mika Kallio, Finland, Red Bull KTM 250

Championship standings (Penultimate race)
1. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, Gilera, 256
2. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Aprilia, 228
3. Mika Kallio, Finland, Red Bull KTM 250, 191
4. Alex Debon, Spain, Aprilia, 176
5. Yuki Takahashi, Japan, Honda, 147
7. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, Red Bull KTM 250, 128
9. Julian Simon, Repsol KTM 250 cc, 109

Source: KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG

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