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Suzuki confirm Lavilla to replace Roberts

Suzuki confirm Lavilla to replace Roberts

Suzuki confirm Lavilla to replace Roberts

Team Suzuki have confirmed that Gregorio Lavilla will replace Kenny Roberts for the remainder of the Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valenciana after the American withdrew as a result of continuing problems with the dislocated left elbow injury that ruled him out of the last four races.

Roberts set the fastest time in the morning free practice session but reported that, whilst he could set fast times without difficulty, he was able to run only a few consecutive laps before weakness set in, causing him problems under the severe braking at the twisty Ricardo Tormo circuit.

The decision to withdraw Roberts and replace him with official tester Lavilla was taken by the team directly after the first session, both to safeguard Roberts's long-term recovery and to give the Spaniard a better chance of getting up to speed before the race on Sunday.

"This is an experience I've never had – coming to a race without knowing if I'd be strong enough," said Roberts. "The concept was to try to get closer as the season ends, to get a better base for next year. But in the circumstances I was not able to do that and it dictated the decision to withdraw from the race.

"The riding part this morning was the same as normal. The arm feels good and pain free but after four or five laps I didn't have the strength necessary to control the bike. You don't recognise how much strength you need, especially under braking, until you don't have it.

"Ten days ago, I hadn't even done a push-up. I started then with gym training, but time wasn't on our side. It's also disappointing because it is Garry Taylor's last race, and I would have liked to participate."

Team manager Taylor, who is retiring after this final race of 2004, said: "Kenny reminded us this morning of how fast he can be when he's fully fit. But despite Herculean efforts to get ready for this race, he found he was lacking the strength and endurance he needs to go race distance.

"The team took the decision to substitute him with Gregorio Lavilla for the remaining qualifying sessions and the race. There are safety considerations, as well as the need not to jeopardise Kenny's long-term recovery. By making the decision early, it also gives Gregorio the chance to qualify and perform well in his home GP."

Lavilla is the team's regular test rider, and raced two weeks ago in place of Roberts at Phillip Island in Australia.


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