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Testing times: Kenny Roberts on the importance of a third rider in MotoGP

Testing times: Kenny Roberts on the importance of a third rider in MotoGP

Testing times: Kenny Roberts on the importance of a third rider in MotoGP

With several of the 4 stroke MotoGP prototype machines already well into the testing phase and preparing for the start of their first World Championship season in April, the use of a third rider to aid project development has been noted as a one of the key ingredients to swift evolution. Indeed, some of the remaining squads still anticipating a 4 stroke future have incorporated a reserve pilot as they aim to build the right infrastructure with which to approach the new era.

One of those teams is Proton KR. 'For the last few years we've been working on manufacturing a motorcycle,' explains Team Owner Kenny Roberts. 'We've got that worked out now so we are ready to move on to the next stage, which is to create a testing team and learn how to make that motorcycle go fast around a racetrack. Development is very difficult during the season so we are trying to bring people through who can help us when we need them.'

The former 500cc World Champion has recently signed Spanish youngster David Garcia to back up his experienced MotoGP line-up of Jeremy McWilliams and Nobu Aoki. 'The idea is that every new part we produce will be tried and tested by David so that we know for sure whether it works or whether it doesn't. Grand Prix events are far too busy to be bringing things to the racetrack and not knowing whether or not they are going to work. The deal is to run them in with a test rider on the Wednesday and have them available on the Thursday to our two Grand Prix riders.'

Whilst Garcia's immediate impetus will be on the testing of new parts for the current 3 cylinder 500cc machine, Roberts insists the wider focus is on the production of a 4 stroke motorcycle in the near future. 'This is the beginning of something we have needed badly. The crucial factor is to understand the systems of the 4 stroke MotoGP bikes. Maybe we need one, two or even three riders to do this aside from the guys who are going out there and racing. A World Championship season is very demanding for a two-rider team and you can't expect them to be able to complete testing schedules as well as the races. We need our testers to be understand the machines and the demands of the championship. We are now in a position to contest each Grand Prix with two riders and the system is in place for 4 stroke racing.'

500cc, 2001, Kurtis Roberts

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