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Electrical storm returns to haunt Roberts

Electrical storm returns to haunt Roberts

Electrical storm returns to haunt Roberts

After two seasons dogged by electrical problems with the radically advanced Suzuki GSV-R, Kenny Roberts scented a return to a gloriously competitive past when the Japanese factory turned up for preseason tests with a simplified version of the bike which allowed him to lap with the top riders in official sessions at Catalunya and Jerez. The optimism continued at Welkom, with Roberts and his team-mate John Hopkins setting quick times throughout the weekend and qualifying in an encouraging, if modest, tenth and eleventh place on the grid.

However, mystery gremlins returned to haunt Roberts in the race – his engine inexplicably cutting out after just six laps. The former World Champion had to walk back to the pits and later reflected diplomatically on the positive aspects of the weekend and looked forward to better fortunes at Jerez next week.

"I got a decent start, got into turn one eighth or so and got up to seventh at the end of the first lap," explained Roberts. "Things were looking quite okay, as in the warm up. The bike felt pretty well balanced. I was being gentle with the rear because I didn't want to hurt the tyre too much, so I was taking it pretty easy.

"Also, at the beginning, Melandri's bike had smoke coming off it so I backed off a bit in case his motor blew, though I think it was a tyre rubbing on something. When Loris (Capirossi) came past me I think he felt the same - he got up behind Melandri then noticed the smoke and backed away too.

"Then Barros got me down the back straight. I was following those guys, feeling smooth and comfortable and everything felt okay when it stopped. But it was basically a good weekend overall. The improvements over the winter have shown Suzuki can get to a better position. We have some exciting stuff coming for Jerez.

"I think this was the worst-prepared we're going to be all year and everything from here just looks up. Sometimes you don't get finishes, and today was one of those days. On a grand scale, I think we can be pretty happy with the way the weekend went."

MotoGP, 2004, Kurtis Roberts

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