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Telefonica Movistar Suzuki: Roberts saves his best for last

Telefonica Movistar Suzuki: Roberts saves his best for last

Friday, June 1, 2001 - Mugello, Italy: Team Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Junior narrowly missed provisional pole position in today´s first qualifying for Sunday´s Italian GP, ending up second after a scorching lap time set in the dying minutes of the session.

Roberts had never been lower than fourth during the session. Then, right at the end, Valentino Rossi upped his pace to record a time a full second faster than any of his rivals. Roberts was the only one able to respond, and slashed his own previous best time to challenge the Italian home star. He ended up only three tenths of a second slower.

Team-mate Sete Gibernau was 10th, but frustrated after niggling machine woes continued for yet another race. Minor technical problems meant he wasn´t able to use the session as he wanted, or achieve the lap time he believes is possible.

The first practice day for the race at the picturesque Tuscan circuit outside Florence took place in fine, sunny conditions, which are expected to prevail for the rest of the weekend.

KENNY ROBERTS - Second position, 1:53.151

We came here with the bike set up in the direction we´ve been working, trying to make it more tyre-friendly. When I rode the bike like that this morning, I thought: there´s no way I can be competitive with this. I asked the guys to set it more like it was last year, which is a lot different than the setting we used for the last three races - so it´s more nimble, and turns quicker. It makes the bike harder to ride, but at least I can get a good lap time. The problem is it´s harder on tyres. I know that with this setting I can be competitive for the first part of the race, lap-time wise. Then we´ll have to hope that the tyres have improved enough to do that all race long. There are some little things we can do to the bike to improve it tomorrow. It´s just the first day, and it´s going to get tougher.

SETE GIBERNAU - Tenth position, 1:55.140

We just lost another session because of small things going wrong with the bike. It´s very disappointing, for the team and for myself. The competition this year is already very close, and problems in qualifying makes it even harder. We need to sit down and analyse why we are having this bad luck. I just wish I could have some normal qualifying sessions, and afterwards be able to say: That is the fastest I could go.

WARREN WILLING - Technical Advisor

We tried different set-up ideas in the morning, to find which would be better - at this track, you need to get the bike to turn well, but also have the suspension soft enough so it rides the bumps without getting put off line. We found which Kenny liked more, and set both bikes that way. We have some new engine parts here - nothing major, but possibly a slight improvement. In the afternoon we did comparison tests, and we will decide later exactly what combination we will use.

500cc, 2001, Kurtis Roberts

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