Mykyta 'Nick' Kalinin- is a 19-year-old motorcycle racer from Ukraine. Nick finished in the top ten of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship 2017 (part of the FIM Superbike World Championship), making a mark instantly by recording a podium (3rd) at Imola. Nick won the 2017 Ukrainian National Supersport 600 Championship in 2017, to add to his Ukrainian Superstock 600 title from 2016, plus he is a two-time Ukrainian Junior Supermoto Champion, and he has won multiple races in the Ukraine and Russia, plus hold a number of outright lap record at circuit in his home country.
Nick Kalinin was one of six riders that were chosen to compete in the 2017 WorldSSP300 Championship as part of Yamaha's R3 bLU cRU Challenge, a project designed to provide a clear career path for talented young racers into the WorldSBK Championship. As part of the Yamaha bLU cRU project, he also spent a week training with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and his team at the fourth edition of the Yamaha VR46 Masterclass, held at Rossi's Ranch in Tavulia, Italy.
Nick Kalinin also competed in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, a process that sees just 24 riders selected from over 2000 applicants to compete side-by-side with the MotoGP World Championship, earning himself an entry into the Ukrainian Book of Records as the first person from the Ukraine to compete in the championship.
For the 2018 season, Nick returns to fight for the WorldSSP300 title on board a Kawasaki Ninja 300 with the experienced GP Project Team from Italy.
Photo: Yamaha Racing, Kainin Media
Photo: Yamaha Racing, Kalinin media
Photo: Yamaha VR 46 Master Camp
Photo: Yamaha Racing, Mykyta Kalinin media
PHOTO: MotoXracing; Yamaha Racing
Photo: Mickhalchik ; Yamaha
Photo: Yamaha Blu Cru
Photo: Andrey Martin
Odessa finished the season in Aragon
The Ukrainian earned important points for the Grand Prix of San Marino
17-year-old motorcycle racer competed on the track Brno
Kalinin get new personal best result in the MotoGP Rookies Cup
"I'm happy to start this new adventure with Kawasaki and the GP Project team, team with a lot of experience at international level and in the CIV. In addition, Kawasaki will release a new bike for 2018 and I cannot wait to ride it. 2018 will be my second year in WorldSSP300 and I will face it with a new bike and a new team, who I hope to continue with grow and improve race after race. In 2017 I got on the podium at Imola and I finished in the top 10 in the championship, in 2018 I will give 200% to get even more. It will not be easy, but we will work for reach our goal. Italy is my second home and I cannot wait to meet the whole team. In January I will go to Spain to train, with the team we have studied a test plan that I have allows you to arrive prepared for the first race."
The release of a new category in the WSBK paddock has given the opportunity for many young riders to be able to delve into the world of racing and showcase their talents on the world stage. That category? World Supersport 300.
This new lightweight class not only encourages young riders to step up to the plate, but manufacturers too. There are four approved manufacturers at the beginning of the season, but others are welcomed with the correct paperwork. Even from the get-go, the new championship appears to be one of encouragement that grows with the riders and teams.
However, it isn’t just new manufacturers joining the class. This gave the opportunity of growth for a particular platform: Yamaha’s bLU cRU.
The bLU cRU concept is to cultivate and support the next generation of riding talent, both on and off the track. In regards to WSSP300, bLU cRU gave six riders the chance of competing internationally while experiencing the professionalism and encouragement of such a prestige platform. It also brought about the bLU cRU challenge for these six riders, in which the top rider at the end of the season will move up to an official Yamaha team in a higher class – as if the new series wasn’t exciting enough!
Of the six riders is Mykyta Kalinin, who has stood out to many in the paddock. As one of only two Ukrainian riders, Mykyta – also known as Nick – came to WSSP300 with some experience under his belt. Competing in the MotoGP Red Bull Rookies Cup for two years, Nick had an idea of the world-racing scene, however the Rookies Cup came as a complete learning curve for Nick, more so than that of joining the WSBK paddock.
“When I came to Rookies Cup, it was the first year in road racing for me. I had skills, but there was no experience. I had to work in each training to understand a new bike for me and adapt to world championship level tracks. It was difficult, because other guys had already had several seasons in the European, World championships or it was home tracks for them, when I had to start work from the beginning. But maybe such a difficult start gave me the motivation to fight every race and go to the goal. So when I came in WSSP300 – first year was much easier than in the Rookies Cup. I learned a lot in Rookies and I had an opportunity to ride on Yamaha R3 in winter.”
The step up between classes also meant a change in bike, heading away from the 250cc KTM and towards the R3 Yamaha. There are almost always benefits as well as drawbacks when it comes to such a move in the motorcycling world. However, it appears that Nick’s move was the right one:
“After two seasons in Rookies Cup it was important to make right step. We had proposed to ride in CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship, European Talent Cup Moto3. But also we had news about new category in WorldSBK. Supersport 300 is World Championship with a high level of competition, strong rivals and big media support. I got a good contract with my team MotoXracing, that is official Yamaha team in Stock 1000. This team already had big experience in road racing. Also Yamaha gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional rider due to Yamaha’s youth talent development program, bLU cRU. I like Moto3 bike but now I’m sure that it was right decision.”
With rivals such as Marc Garcia and Alfonso Coppola, who come mostly from countries that flourish in road racing, Nick’s experience lies with that of Supermoto and Motocross, as well as Jet Ski – perhaps lacking in road racing due to the minuscule opportunities presented by the Ukraine, as opposed to that of Spain or Italy. This also plays into the training Kalinin receives at present:
“In Ukraine I have an opportunity to ride on one big track and a couple of kartodromes. But by European standards our big track more seems like motocross or races for survival.
The only chance for me now have normal training process is to go in winter to Spain and training different types of motorcycles. But it’s expensive way that I, and other young riders from Ukraine, have to do. I would like to have even one good track in my country. It will help to grow popularity of motorcycle sport here.”
This also brings into question the budget issues a lot of young riders face, especially those coming from countries – such as Ukraine – where motorcycle racing is either unpopular or underfunded. While many fans watch the sport they love regularly, only a scarce amount look into what it takes to become a part of the racing scene, let alone what it costs. Some even go to the length of complaining about those covered in sponsors – you never see the likes of Marc Marquez without some sort of logo. But the truth is that sponsors have a very large role when it comes to a rider’s career, and when you’re from somewhere such as Ukraine, every sponsor is important.
“It’s not an easy thing for any rider. I would like that to ride you will need only talent, but unfortunately for the start of carreer or even for trainings, tests you need to find money. Budget for a season for me is really big, especially if you know how hard the situation in Ukraine is now. But I was lucky to meet a few years ago a good friend from USA – Devin Battley. He has the same passion as I. He supported me in Rookies Cup and when he knew that this year I needed help to continue my carreer, he helped me. Devin always supports me and I believe that soon we will get victory.”
Of course, the path of a young rider in WSBK can be different to the experiences of those in MotoGP. Nick has been lucky enough to experience both championships first-hand, and has been able to grow thanks to the involvements he has had over the past three years. On the topic of expenses, we looked into the differences between competing in WSSP300 to that of Rookies Cup:
“The financial aspects of these two championships are really different. From my personal experience, Rookies Cup is a great opportunity to make first step in the big world of motorsport. You can learn from the best trainers on the best tracks and main costs are covered by organisers. But anyway when you finish this school, in most cases you will need budget to make next step. There are a lot of championships now: European, world championships or national. You just need to use all that you have learned in the past, have people who believe in you and make decision. But also there are examples of riders who managed to achieve heights in WSBK and then successfully go to MotoGP and show even better results. And I want to be one of those in the future.”
One of the considerably most memorable experiences for Nick from this year has been the opportunity to travel to the infamous Tavullia to take part in the 4thMasterCamp – the admired Camp selects a limited group of Yamaha riders to spend a week training alongside the VR46 crew, and undergo the regime the Academy riders face in preparation for their next races on the world stage of MotoGP. The bLU cRU riders were luckily to be the next to be invited. Nick proved to make the most out of his week in Italy, taking the win the MiniGP and overall enjoying his time there.
“This is another point for which I must thank Yamaha. Experience of close communication with racers of VR46 academy and The Doctor himself already sounds good and if you consider that this was accompanied by daily training on the famous ranch and Misano circuits. So I got an unforgettable experience, which I hope to repeat in the future.”
Of course, Rossi isn’t the only person to mentor Nick this year. The undeniable relationship that Nick has with his father, Pavel Kalinin, is a special one. As an ex racer himself, Pavel proves to be an incomparable mentor for Nick, and has stood by him through every step of his career, so I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Kalinin deserves a bit of merit when it comes to the exceptional talent of Nick!
Naturally, to be chosen to be a part of the Yamaha family is a huge opportunity, but does the bLU cRU challenge add more competition to a rider’s season, considering there’s a 600 ride up for grabs?
“Yes! I am very grateful to the Yamaha that they gave me the chance to be a part of this program. The fact that Yamaha chose me, believed in me adds motivation. And of course bLU cRU riders always are paid much attention on Paddock Show, from fans and the interview. In addition the opportunity to get into the Supersport 600 class next year makes us work even harder.”
Considering the attention that not only the Yamaha riders receive, the importance of presentation each rider must hold is substantial. How can you gain fans if you aren’t willing to be friendly? As a member of bLU cRU, Nick is often in the media’s attention. But should social and media attention be encouraged towards young riders?
“Yes, it helps us to develop our social skills. It’s another side of racing. To be successful you must be good at social and media work from the first step. For professional riders it’s not only about racing. If you look at Rossi, he always tries to make time for his fans and knows how to co-operate with attention from the media.”
With the switch up from Rookies Cup last year to WSSP300 this year, Nick has experienced new circuits as well as a new racing schedule. With fans of the Rookies Cup often being indulged to two races in a weekend, the new class of the WSBK paddock has a different set up, and one considerably more alike to the MotoGP layout than the Rookies Cup.
“For me both calendars are good and I enjoy every track that I am riding. Unfortunately, by the beginning of WSSP300 season I knew only half of the tracks on which I had to ride, but it will be not a problem next year. For example I got a podium in Imola this year, on the track where I was riding first time. But if I can change one thing– I would like to have more time on the track in race weekend. If you are first time riding on a track, didn’t have tests there – one hour before Superpole or qualifying and race not always enough.”
However, even while being a stranger to a number of tracks, Nick managed to accomplish his first podium at Imola, showcasing the true talent of the Ukrainian, much to the excitement of his fans. Of course, this leads to the all-important question: Will we be seeing more of those in 2018?
“Haha, of course I hope to reach many more podiums next year. Also it would not be bad to compete for the podium at the final round in Jerez.”
Just what we like to hear!
We wish Nick all the best in Jerez this weekend and will be with him every step into 2018, as I’m sure many others will!
To keep up to date on Nick’s career, you can follow his social accounts, or check out his website:
Documentary history is called "hero". Nikita himself and his father and trainer Paul plainly tells about the first steps in Motorsport, the invaluable experience of playing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup and, of course, about her impressions from the debut season in the world championship WSBK, where Kalinin-the younger stands in the class WorldSSP300. Viewers will learn about how the sport fascinated him before the appearance of the motorcycle and what are the important lessons he extracts from the present performances at the highest level.
Nikita Kalinin: "This is the first large program where we have tried to tell how I went to his first podium of the world championship. It was not easy, but at every stage I met people who helped me, supported. This program we have rented through the Sports Fund Sergey dyadechko DSF. I hope it will help many of my peers, even those who are not engaged in motorsports, to understand that the main thing is to set a goal and go for it. Then success is guaranteed!"