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MoviStar Suzuki: Saturday press release
Team Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Junior, the defending World Champion, came to within four measly hundredths of a second in a blistering final qualifying session for tomorrow´´s South African GP.
Roberts slashed his previous best lap time by more than a second after the team made a significant change to settings before the session. Only the close times of the top runners - from second to seventh covered by one second, and the rest packed even closer behind - kept Kenny from a front-row start. Fifth fastest, he leads the second row.
Team-mate Sete Gibernau - lap record holder and former pole qualifier - also benefited from the changes, in particular a last-minute alteration that saw him cut 1.6 seconds off his best time of Friday in the closing minutes of the session. Another few laps promised further improvement - but the chequered flag thwarted those hopes, and he ended up 11th, on row three.
Tomorrow´´s South African GP is the second round of the 2001 World Championship.
KENNY ROBERTS - Fifth Position, 1:35.476
´´The bike is better - but it was still quite a struggle, if that makes sense. Overall, it´´s positive. We went a second faster than last year, but there are a lot of exceptional machines and a lot of good riders out there, and with nobody having jumped off this year there´´s also a lot of confidence. That´´s showing in all the lap times. We came here after some problems at the first race needing to re-invent the wheel. Warren, Bob Toomey and the team have done a great job. It´´s not a victory and we´´re not where we´´d like to be, but it´´s in the right direction. It´´s nice to be able to get on and feel the bike will be better. I´´ve no idea what the race will be like. I´´ll try my hardest, and hope that the race is run in a way that will suit our bike.´´
SETE GIBERNAU - 11th Position, 1:36.138
´´This morning Kenny took some of my settings and added some ideas of his own, and came up with a big improvement. I was still struggling this session - having to wrestle the bike too much to get it into the corners, putting too much pressure on the front tyre. When you do that, the bike tends to push and run wide. Then right at the end my crew set my other bike like Kenny´´s. I knew right away that it was a lot better - and I ran my fastest lap straight out of the pits. Then we ran out of time. If I could have run more laps I know I would have been able to be consistent, and probably also faster. As it is, I´´m only a little more than half-a-second off Kenny´´s time. I hope this track will be where we turn out luck, but you can´´t force that. That is when you make errors. The race is going to be so close. I would have liked to have been on the second row, but I feel if I get a good start I should be able to pick my way through. It´´s just a pity we weren´´t able to get to those setting sooner.´´
WARREN WILLING - Technical Adviser
´´We´´ve been continuing in the same direction, hopefully refining the bike and making it easier to ride. There are a couple of places where Kenny was having to fight it too much - the bike wasn´´t helping him. The changes have had some positive results, and some negative. Sete was having the same problems. The difference is that he doesn´´t have two years experience on the Suzuki, and he doesn´´t quite have the finesse yet.´´
GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager
´´Sete improved by 1.6 seconds, and that is a big achievement. Kenny also ran a full second faster than last year, when he was on the front row, and this year he is not. That just shows how competitive the class is. Kenny and Sete are both racers - I´´m sure the team will give a good account of itself tomorrow.´´
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