Mykyta Kalinin returns to racing and shares his thoughts on the events of the season so far.
World Supersport 300 rider Mykyta “Nick” Kalinin began this season with aims to better his achievements from last year. In 2017, Kalinin successfully accomplished multiple top 10 results across the season, along with a commendable 3rd in Imola; and while the memories with bLU cRU will stay with Nick, it was time for a game plan with the GP Project Team.
The 2018 season’s start couldn’t have been more positive. With a P4 in the opening round of Aragon followed by a P6 in Assen, it’s no surprise the Ukrainian headed to Imola with the intention of repeating his podium glory in 2017.
The Italian weekend began as a tough one, due to implications on the bike; however, through hard work and determination, the #22 crew was able to constantly improve lap times all the way up to Sunday’s warm up session. This session proved to be the most vital, as it was here that the team were able to resolve the weekend-long problem, setting Kalinin up to make a miraculous recovery in the race.
Despite the weekend’s efforts, however, Kalinin’s race quickly ended, as it was on lap three that wildcard rider Manuel Bastianelli made contact with Nick shortly after turn one, causing the Ukrainian to collide with the circuit barrier at a high speed, headfirst. This crash resulted in Kalinin being taken to Imola hospital, where he went under examination and had the official report of a “polytrauma with lateral talon-navicular dislocation and a complex fracture of the neck and of the talus of the left leg”, meaning that the rest of Kalinin’s season remained questionable.
22: “The original goal for this season was to achieve Top 3. However, because of the incident in Imola and therefore missing two races, this does not seem possible any more. Before the weekend, I had big expectations. The weekend was going well for me, and I suppose if it weren’t for the crash I could have reached the podium easily. Also in Donington I feel that the podium was possible, as both of these tracks are some of my strongest, but unfortunately we lost the opportunities here.”
However, the stress of the situation not only targeted Nick and his team, but his family also. For the Italian weekend, Kalinin’s mother and younger sister were present to support the 19-year-old, as well as his father having a regular role in most of Nick’s race weekends. Despite the events that took place on the Sunday, it was somewhat of a comfort that the Kalinin family were present at the circuit.
“Of course, they were really stressed, but they knew that I was okay and alive and not in something like a coma. From this situation, they had the most comfort as it was easier for them to be in Imola than at home.”
The actions of Bastianelli at the Italian round could be deemed as irresponsible riding from the pilot, as this wasn’t the rider’s only involvement in a crash during the race. While many wildcard riders aim to make a modest, if not fruitful, first impression on the world stage, it appeared that perhaps Bastianelli did the opposite; Nick had some simple, yet effective, advice for those seeking a wildcard ride in the future:
“Naturally, just don’t be crazy. It’s not the first or last race, you shouldn’t just dive-bomb everywhere.”
The incident in Imola left the WSSP300 fans questioning the remainder of the Odessan’s season; Nick’s injuries weren’t for the feint-hearted, so the expectations for a quick recovery weren’t on many fans’ minds. But it was on Nick’s.
“In the beginning, we were planning to go to Donington. But, after we removed the cast, we realized that the leg was very swollen and inoperative. Afterwards, we began a fast recovery because we knew that it was possible to miss even Brno. So we did everything we possibly could, about three days before the event I started walking and before this I was cycling on a stand, also at times I rode a street bike, just to get used to shifting gears. All of this recovery was positive, so we decided to come to Brno.”
The Czech Republic welcomed the World Superbikes last weekend, along with the fully established GP Project Team, less than a month after the events at Imola. Leaving the medical center after the first examination from WSBK officials, Kalinin received the green light to ride in the first free practice, with an assessment to be made thereafter regarding the rest of the weekend.
Safe to say, Nick’s weekend started phenomenally. By achieving P3 straight out of the box in FP1, Kalinin’s approval to compete in the rest of the round was a no-brainer. The rest of the sessions leading up to the race proceeded to gain solid results; with the Friday ending with an overall P5, giving Kalinin access straight into Super Pole 2, in which he achieved a grid position of 7th for Sunday’s race.
We caught up with Nick after Super Pole 2, and picked his brain a little on his plans for Sunday’s events.
“I’m really happy to be here, I love racing and love my category. We were really surprised with the results so far. In the warm up, I will try to assemble all of my best sectors just to achieve a good time; it doesn’t mean anything, it is just something for me, even if it does not happen. For the race, I know my strengths and weaknesses. Today, my times for the second sector were much faster than yesterday. Now, I feel even more confident than before.”
The race would be the testament of how successful Nick’s recovery had been; with yet another time improvement in the morning’s warm-up, achieving a P4, the race was set to be an exhilarating one. From the get-go, Kalinin immediately engaged in the fight for second, and he fought hard. Constantly back and forth with the likes of Carrasco, Deroue and Khan, Kalinin kept his composure and endured the 11-way battle for the full extent of the race. While Nick made admirable strides in the fight, a red flag was issued with 3 laps to go due to the condition of the circuit after a crash from further back in the race; concluding the final result to be determined from the lap prior to the red flag – where Kalinin achieved P6.
While this wasn’t the result the Ukrainian was hoping for, the #22 crew could not have applauded Nick any more. The Czech weekend was simply intended for Nick to become reacquainted with competing again, yet Kalinin successfully blew his team and fans out of the water with not only his efforts, but the results to match also.
As aforementioned, after the events that took place in Italy, Kalinin’s season became questionable. However, the Odessan champion made it astoundingly clear this weekend that he is back, and he is ready to fight. Not only in the races, but to continue his championship charge also.
“If we could reach top 3 it would be great, even fourth. But, in reality, a possible goal is top 5. But I will now push even harder than before, and hope for good results in future.”
We will continue to stand with Nick throughout this season, and wish him luck in the next World Supersport 300 round in Misano, Italy.
You can keep up to date with Nick and his season through his website and social medias: