It was an open secret for some time, but now it has been officially announced: Mika Kallio is to leave the Pramac team with immediate effect, and miss the last two races of the season at Estoril and Valencia. Speculation has been rife all year about problems for Kallio, including reports of personal problems in the Finnish media. The press release and Kallio put the Finnish rider's problems down to a nagging shoulder injury that Kallio picked up in a crash at Le Mans, earlier this year. Kallio is to return to Finland from Australia and seek treatment for his shoulder, in preparation for next season, which will probably find him in Moto2.
Though the press release states that the name of the rider replacing Kallio will be announced in the next few days, pending contracts being signed, the rider put pen to paper to take Kallio's seat is Carlos Checa. Checa has been testing the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 at Mugello, and has been posting videos and regular updates on his Twitter page. Checa announced that he had decided to race at Estoril and Valencia last Thursday, October 14th, and posted the news on Twitter. At the same time, he also announced he will run the number 71, as the number 7 - historically, the number Carlos Checa has always used - is already taken by Hiroshi Aoyama for the season. Checa's choice of 71 has a particular irony, as 71 is the number that Chris Vermeulen decided to race with when he moved to MotoGP in 2006. Previously, Vermeulen, like Checa, had also run the number 7 whenever possible, but with Checa using the number 7 at the time, Vermeulen had been forced to take 71. The roles are reversed, with Hiroshi Aoyama now having usurped Checa's number.
Below is the press release from Pramac Ducati announcing Kallio's withdrawal from the series:
October 17 - 2010
THANK YOU MIKA!
With the Australian Grand Prix the Finnish rider, Mika Kallio, is ending his adventure with the Pramac Racing Team. Mika has suffered in recent races strong pain in his left shoulder injured during Le Mans race in France and after his return in Finland he will take some medical treatment in order to be in the best physical condition for next season. All Pramac Racing Team would like to thank Mika for the two years we spent together and wish him a future full of success and happiness.
Mika Kallio - Pramac Racing Team rider
"It is since Japan's race that the pain in my left shoulder, injured in Le Mans race, has become too intense. I immediately talked to the Team who understood my situation and agreed that I would try to race in Malaysia and Australia and then decide to continue or not in the last two races. Unfortunately, despite the good race today, the pain didn't allowed me to perform in the best way, together with the Team, we decided to conclude our partnership today. It has been a hard choice for me, but in this way I'll be able to find the best physical condition and think about my future. I would like to thank Paolo Campinoti that was very helpful in managing this situation. I would like to also thank all the technical staff of the Pramac Racing Team with which I have found myself very well in this two year and I'll always remember them with great affection. "
Paolo Campinoti - Team Principal Pramac Racing Team
"I would never like to find myself in these situation, but when a rider ask you to not run because he cannot give 100% for the Team, you don't any think to do more that accept his gesture of sincerity and go through that. We had accepted his request and I would like, on behalf of the Pramac Racing Team and our partners, to thank Mika and wish him a wonderful future full of happiness and success. In this two years, Mika has always demonstrated great honesty, giving always the best he can for our Team and colors. Is also for this reason that we'll always consider him one member of our family. In this moment we are thinking about a substitute for the last two races of the year in Portugal and Spain, but just in the following days, after we sign our agreement, we'll officially announce him."