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Memories of 2000 spur Roberts on to an impressive start in Rio

Memories of 2000 spur Roberts on to an impressive start in Rio

Kenny Roberts started work today at the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro in the same mood he left it last year. Roberts was crowned World 500cc Champion here in Brazil, when he needed just sixth place to wrap up the title with another two races to go. This morning the American set the fastest time in the 500cc first free practice session, riding along on the crest of his achievements here in 2000.

Roberts maintained a session-long battle with Honda riders Valentino Rossi and Tohru Ukawa, to eventually set a best lap of 1´53.523, still two and a half seconds slower than Biaggi´s pole time of last year. The Suzuki rider will be happy with this, but will also realise that his fortunes are not running at the same level as last year, and will hope that the form can continue for the rest of the weekend. He was trailed closely by Rossi (+0.293), Abe, Barros and Checa all of whom have their individual reasons to do well here this weekend.

Rossi will want to seal his eleventh win of the season, Abe will want his first. Barros is eager to snatch his first home victory, while Checa will want to put an end to his recent run of poor performances. Roberts´ team-mate Gibernau made sixth place, with McCoy, Ukawa, Biaggi and Criville following in their wake. Johan Stigefelt is an absentee this weekend, he´s suffering from a recurring elbow injury and is unfit to race.

500cc, 2001

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