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Kenny Roberts pleased with Bridgestone tyres and updated Suzuki

Kenny Roberts pleased with Bridgestone tyres and updated Suzuki

Kenny Roberts pleased with Bridgestone tyres and updated Suzuki

Kenny Roberts Jr. returned to action at factory tests at Phillip Island this week less than a fortnight after injuring himself at Suzuki's previous session at Sepang. Roberts hurt his collarbone on the first day of his first outing with the updated version GSV-R on Bridgestone tyres in Malaysia but he was able to rack up the laps in Australia, where he reported major progress over the course of the three days.

No lap times were released by the team but Roberts revealed: "We ended up quicker than last year's times on qualifying tyres, using race tyres. It doesn't mean we're fast, but we're going in a good direction, and it's nice to have some decent lap times.

"On the first day, I felt quite stiff and sore, and it seemed a little early to be back on the bike. As the test progressed, the bike got easier to ride. With the season coming, Suzuki need me to give them as much information as possible, so it was important to ride, and they were able to get a pretty good test out of me.

We had a plan to get the test done so as to make clear progress, and keep things simple. We did it strategically, and made improvements every time we went out. I feel the factory has more idea this year what the riders need from the bike, and I was also able to test some of the new Bridgestone tyres. I'm looking forward to the next test now."

Team Manager Garry Taylor also expressed his satisfaction at the test, which ended a day early, and added that he was impressed with the performance of Spanish rider Gregorio Lavilla, who stepped in for the injured John Hopkins. "It was a good test," commented Taylor. "We don't want to give out lap times, but we're pleased with the result. We seem well on the way to sorting out the niggling problems that frustrated us last year, and Kenny is in a very positive frame of mind. You could see from his movements that he was still in some pain, but he gave everything to the test.

"We were also really lucky to have the services of Gregorio Lavilla. He is very clear and precise in his feelings about the bike, and made a big contribution. We're still using last year's machines, but modified and evolved in every department. The factory has obviously been very busy since our last test, and they are working very hard. We achieved all that we needed in three days rather than four, and it was nice to have such an upbeat finish to a really positive test."

Hopkins is expected to be fit enough to take over testing duties from Lavilla at Suzuki's next test at Valencia, Spain, on March 6 and 7.

MotoGP, 2003, Kurtis Roberts

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