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MoviStar Suzuki Saturday press release

MoviStar Suzuki Saturday press release

ROBERTS SECOND AFTER THRILLING BATTLE FOR POLE

Team Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Junior claimed his best qualifying position of the year so far for Sunday´s French GP. The defending World Champion will start from the front row of the grid after setting second-fastest qualifying time.

Kenny played a leading role in a fierce four-way battle for front-row positions, with pole changing hands five times in the last ten minutes. The rivals were Roberts, Japan´s Shinya Nakano and the Italian riders Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi, with yesterday´s fastest rider Garry McCoy out of the equation after a crash this morning.

Kenny was twice on top of the list in the final hour, and then went faster yet again in the closing stages as the pace continued to rise. He ended up just over two tenths slower than Biaggi, and almost two tenths ahead of Rossi for his first front-row start of the year. In the process, he cut a full second off his best time of yesterday.

Team-mate Sete Gibernau´s run of bad luck continued, however, with suspected electrical problems to both of his machines in the crucial final timed session. The Spanish star managed only 13 laps (compared with Kenny´s 23), and none of them at a fast pace, thwarted every time he wanted to go for a lap time. As a result, he was the only rider who did not improve on his Friday time, and dropped to 14th overall. Team members were investigating the mystery fault after the session.

The final practice took place in sunny conditions, with track temperatures significantly higher than yesterday, offering better levels of grip.

KENNY ROBERTS - Second Position, 1:38.668
Between the morning and the afternoon sessions Warren (Willing) and Bob (Toomey) changed the geometry. At first I was not sure if it was better, but overall it allowed me to brake a little harder and go into the corners quicker. It gave me confidence in areas of the track where the engine is out of its range, because I could square off the turns more and have less lean angle when I got on the gas. I was picking up tenths everywhere and that´s what made the difference. I´ve always said that my level of effort is there. It´s up to the team and Suzuki to improve the bike. If so we´ll be going for pole positions, lap records and race wins. We´ve made a small jump in power character, but more than anything it´s the nature of the track.

SETE GIBERNAU - 14th position, 1:40.312
I can´t say much that is positive. We had made some changes to my better bike that I think were going to help me. We put on some fresh tyres and I went to go for a lap time - and the bike broke. I came back to the pit, and the team tried to repair it, but it didn´t work, so I came back in again and changed to my spare bike. Then that also had a similar problem. In general, the session was worth nothing. I am starting from the fourth row, and it will make a very hard race for me.

GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager
On days like today, champions show their class. Kenny made up a full second over yesterday. Sometimes sheer determination and skill can make all the difference. Sete´s afternoon was messed up by a couple of problems that ruined what should have been a promising session. I´m sure he´ll bounce back for a strong race tomorrow.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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