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Suzuki men join battle with Australian weather

Suzuki men join battle with Australian weather

Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau and Kenny Roberts were ninth and 14th fastest in today´s first qualifying session for Sunday´s Australian GP, in a session of wildly changing fortunes, and with wildly changing weather.

Although the rain held off for the premier class, the wind did not, gusting in from the sea to make the conditions both hazardous and highly unpredictable.

Roberts, lap record holder at the fast and spectacular circuit, never did find the right combination of bike and breeze, and has plenty of work to do tomorrow to improve on what is at present only a fourth-row starting position.

Gibernau ended up better off, but still missing the combination. All the same he joined in the mad scramble in the closing minutes of the hour-long session, and posted a time less than a second slower than provisional pole time, set by Australian rider Garry McCoy.

An improvement to the notorious Phillip Island weather was forecast for the remaining two days of the GP meeting, and a fully dry session tomorrow is expected to redraw the grid map once again.

SETE GIBERNAU – Ninth Position, 1:34.987

We´ve been struggling to find a tyre that works – that will solve our chatter problem. Halfway through the session we tried some settings that helped, but at the end I just didn´t have the right combination of the tyres and chassis that I needed. I went for a good time anyway, and we´re quite close. We need to sit down with Michelin and make sure we get the tyres we need for the next step. We´re all struggling with the wind and the weather. I hope we can sort things out tomorrow, and that I´ll be able to move up to the first or second row.

KENNY ROBERTS – 14th Position, 1:35.714

We´re in a dark pool right now, and we´re trying to find out which way the bubbles are going. I have both bikes the same, with an engine firing character that´s slightly different from what I´ve used before, trying to get the throttle response I need. We´ve got lots of work to do to get it all dialled in, but the biggest thing right now is just to try and cut the wind. It´s so bad. As you come out of the corner, and you get on the gas and the front wheel lifts, it gets right underneath the bike and you have to close off. I don´t like having to get off the throttle because of the conditions, rather than the grip.

GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager

At the end of the session, Sete had a couple of red helmets up on the screen, showing he was fastest of anyone through those sections – but then he´s giving it away on the last part of the lap. He and Stuart are working on that right now. He is very close, and a small improvement will see him further up the grid. Kenny´s still settling down, working on overall settings. We need the weather to improve tomorrow, to give us the time to get everything up to the best potential.

500cc, 2001

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