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Telefonica Movistar Suzuki: Racing restart brings new hopes for champion Kenny

Telefonica Movistar Suzuki: Racing restart brings new hopes for champion Kenny

World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr and his revised Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki challenged for pole position in today´s first qualifying session for Sunday´s Czech Republic GP - running well inside the lap record and faster than last year´s pole time to end up a close third fastest. This gives the American a place on the provisional front row of the starting grid.

The strong performance came after a major engine revision and minor chassis changes, which the team tested a week ago at the end of the long summer break. Roberts and team-mate Sete Gibernau have switched to an earlier pre-close-firing-order engine, reviving a machine type used by 1993 World Champion Kevin Schwantz, and also re-adopted by champion Mick Doohan for the last two of his five world titles.

The motor is fitted in a new chassis, an update of the type introduced at the start of this season, incorporating minor but useful improvements.

But the new equipment did not work so well for Gibernau, who was disappointed with 12th place in the afternoon, after having run faster and placed eighth in morning free training.

KENNY ROBERTS, 2:01.142, Third Position

It´s not bad for only the second time I´ve tried this different firing order. I rode it for one day in tests at Mugello, and though the lap time there was not so good, the connection between myself and the rear tyre seemed better. We´ve sacrificed acceleration and top speed for a better throttle connection, and today was the first time this season that I´ve been able to follow other riders and open the throttle at the same time as them. It means I can hope for better results, though we´re still making the lap time on corner speed, and if there is a battle of acceleration then I have no chance. We need to make the bike as good as possible, and then hope we stand a chance on Sunday.

SETE GIBERNAU, 2:02.821, 12th Position

That was just an awful session: we made some setting changes, and went backwards instead of forwards. It just didn´t work out. The bike was way off in everything, and in fact I went faster on my third lap this morning than I did all afternoon. It´s up to my guys now to try to find out what went wrong, and get the bike better for tomorrow.


Switching back to the earlier firing order seems to have helped us get more consistent lap times. It helps especially in corner entry, because it has less engine braking. We´ve sacrificed some speed, but the pay-off is better corner entry. We´re using only the 17-inch tyre, which I believe is superior to the 16.5. We also have the revised chassis we´ve been wanting for some time. It´s not a big difference from the old one, but it gives small improvements in feel and balance, and means we can dial in a combination of characteristics that we couldn´t get before. In the afternoon we made some changes to Kenny´s bike, to swing-arm length and spring balance, which affects the balance at the point of transition between steering with the front wheel and the rear wheel. We´re not convinced that what we did worked : but today is the day to find these things out.

500cc, 2001

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