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Telefonica Movistar Suzuki - Small spill costs Kenny chance of improvement

Telefonica Movistar Suzuki - Small spill costs Kenny chance of improvement

Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts will start tomorrow´s Pacific GP from the second row of the grid, with team-mate Sete Gibernau right alongside.

This represented a big improvement for Gibernau, winner of the last round at Valencia, slashing his best lap time of yesterday by almost a full second. But it was not the result Roberts had anticipated. The World Champion was on target to improve his own lap time of yesterday, but had a minor spill in the latter half of the final hour-long timed session which threw his plans into disarray. Later when he did try for a fast lap, he was baulked by a slower rider hogging the racing line, and his chances were gone.

Wild card rider Yukio Kagayama qualified 14th, and will start from the fourth row of the grid in his first GP outing for two years. Yukio made a huge improvement on the second day, cutting almost three seconds off his best time of yesterday as he regains familiarity with the feisty two-stroke 500. The Japanese star normally races a four-stroke Superbike for the Suzuki factory. Part of his role as a Wild Card rider is to test development parts for the GP racer.

The Pacific GP, at the spectacular Twin Ring Motegi circuit a couple of hours from Tokyo, is the 13th of 16 scheduled World Championship rounds, and the second race in Japan this year.

Today´s final qualifying took place in warm, sunny conditions, a welcome break after cool weather yesterday, with rain in the morning.

KENNY ROBERTS – Sixth Position, 1:50.944

It was a strange crash. We changed the rear suspension link for the session, and that overloaded the front. Then I was a little too aggressive on one of the hairpins – and it got me. That was the determining factor in where we ended up. I still had some good tyres left, but I needed to build up momentum, and falling down like that ruined the end of the session. I never got the rhythm back, and it also meant we didn´t have time to change the link again to one that I know works better. Still I have to thank all my team for working hard and fast on the bike to get me out again. If it hadn´t been for them, I might have missed the end of the session completely.

SETE GIBERNAU – Seventh Position, 1:51.108

We´re on a good line, and I´ve improved a lot. But I´m having a lot of chatter problems, and so far we can´t get rid of it. It´s bad – it makes this more like a motocross track than a road-race circuit. Even so, I was able to go faster, which means I´m riding well. We need to fix it for tomorrow. I´ll go and get changed, then sit down with my guys and we´ll look at the data, and see what´s causing it.

YUKIO KAGAYAMA – 14th Position, 1:51.659

My best time here on a Superbike is 1:51.3, and I´m very disappointed that I wasn´t able to go faster on the GP machine. Trouble is, when I started getting to a fast pace I found some new problems, with chattering. We managed to improve it, but not to get rid of it completely. I hope we can do that for tomorrow, and then I can go faster again. There is so little time in two days of practice to work on the settings and on my riding. I am using chassis settings different from Kenny and Sete, trying some development parts, so I can´t really share their information.

500cc, 2001

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