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Kurtis Roberts ready for South Africa

Kurtis Roberts ready for South Africa

Kurtis Roberts ready for South Africa

Kurtis Roberts is set to start his rookie MotoGP season in South Africa next weekend after recovering from a dislocated shoulder sustained in pre-season testing with Proton Team KR. Roberts, son of team owner and former World Champion Kenny Roberts and brother to Kenny Jr., was hurt in his first test aboard the team's new V5 prototype at Valencia earlier this year and missed the subsequent official sessions at Catalunya and Jerez as he recovered at home in California.

However, the determined 25 year old insists he will bounce back at Welkom despite not feeling 100% and with the team still struggling to overcome technical setbacks with the new engine and tyres.

"I always measure injuries by how they compare with other injuries," explained Roberts. "The first time I popped my shoulder last year it was worse than this, and I was racing again in two-and-a-half weeks. This time it seemed to recover quicker, but I'm not getting the strength back.

"I've not ridden with it, but I'm shooting for racing in South Africa, even if it won't be optimum conditions for myself, the bike or the tyres. Leastways when the new development stuff comes in a few races time, I hope to be more in the flow of things. I'll be there, and I'll ride, and who knows how it will go."

The second-generation Proton KR V5 machine has been hand-built in Britain and features a total chassis redesign using revolutionary fabrication techniques, with the top end of the engine completely redesigned to improve the integration of the engine/chassis/airbox package.

Kurtis' father Kenny is confident the new machine will live up to its impressive potential but admits: "This race is too early for us."

"I think people will be impressed when they see the bike for the first time," added Roberts Sr. "It's a very nice piece: the best and most integrated motorcycle we have ever built.

"The problem is that so far, the revised motor has not lived up to the performance predicted on the computer simulations. We're working flat out to find out why, but these things take time.

"For South Africa the engine will only be at 80% - not a step forward compared with the first engine. Unfortunately the motor is so integrated with the chassis we can't run last year's motor in the new bike.

"The chassis is very good, as usual – but with the delays in deciding to switch to Dunlop tyres, their new product is not ready either. Things will get better. Dunlop assure me they will have new product for the French GP (May 16), and soon after that we should have the engine up to its full potential. By the Dutch TT at Assen, we hope to move the goalposts."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, Kurtis Roberts

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