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A ‘tough old race' for Byrne

A ‘tough old race' for Byrne

A ‘tough old race' for Byrne

At Catalunya, the KTM-powered Proton KR couldn't continue on the progress made the previous week at Mugello. Only seven days earlier, Byrne had ridden hard to come within one position of a championship point. On Sunday, in the baking sun and on a track surface that abuses tires, Byrne again finished sixteenth – but the Englishman wasn't pleased.

"I'm nowhere near as happy with that sixteenth as I was with the one last week in Mugello," Byrne said after finishing 11 seconds short of catching Kenny Roberts Jr. on the factory Suzuki for the final championship point.

This was the second race for the latest version of the V4 motor, but, unlike last week, when it was 11th fastest of the 21 entries, this week the motor didn't have the torque to move Byrne forward.

"That was a tough old race, that's for sure," Byrne said. "It was going to be a long race no matter what happened because we'd been searching for a feeling since Friday morning and just didn't find it." "The problem we've got with this bike at the moment is we don't have enough grunt off of the turn. The engine doesn't push the bike forward enough as soon as I touch the throttle. In Mugello, we found a real good front setting that allowed me to run quite a lot of corner and be on the gas right on the side of the tire, getting initial drive, rather than relying on how you should ride the thing, which is to get into a corner, get it squared off, pick the thing up, and then grunt it out."

But Byrne wasn't discouraged and looked forward to the Dutch TT at Assen in less than two weeks time. "It's unfortunate, but we're just going to have keep working as hard as we can. I'll never stop trying as hard as I can and hopefully the combination will come a little bit better and we'll start scoring some points."

The answers could come as soon as the return of the Red Bull U.S. GP at Laguna Seca on July 10.
"All we're going to do now is finish," said team owner Kenny Roberts, who had some of his greatest races at Laguna Seca. "That's all we can do. Until we can improve the performance of the vehicle, that's all we can do. I hope around Laguna we'll get better. That's my hope. I think they're on it, but I don't have a time schedule for when it's actually going to start appearing."


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