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Like father like son: Kenny Roberts Jr and Sr

Like father like son: Kenny Roberts Jr and Sr

Like father like son: Kenny Roberts Jr and Sr

Kenny Roberts Junior made an emotional return to his father's Oxfordshire-based MotoGP team in the first day of testing at Sepang in Malaysia. The 32-year-old American was ninth fastest, riding the Roberts machine featuring a RCV 211V Honda, engine, around one and half seconds slower than World Champion Valentino Rossi, riding the Camel Yamaha. His fastest lap was 2 minutes 03.75 seconds.

Kenny Junior last rode for Kenny Roberts Senior in 1998, before joining Suzuki. In 2000 he won the World 500cc Championship for the Japanese factory but at the end of last season left Suzuki and rejoined his father, the three times World 500cc Champion, in his Banbury-based team.

"There are just not enough words to describe how I felt when Kenny Junior came in early in the test to say just how he felt about the engine and the bike," revealed Kenny Senior, after the first day of testing in cloudy but later sunny and humid conditions, around the 3.447 mile Sepang circuit situated next to Kuala Lumpur International airport. "It was a great moment for me and the team because we knew we were back in the good times and competitive which is something we have not been for many years. We were nervous about it before today but Kenny's and the performance of the Honda engine made us all realise we are right back in it."

Kenny Junior has had a frustrating time since the World title six years ago, but not only is he delighted about being back with his father but also doing so on a bike that will be very competitive.

"I just can't believe how good the Honda engine was. I've raced against the Hondas over the years but I never realised just how good they are" explained Kenny Junior after completing 55 laps. "You hear a lot said about the power and response of the Honda engine but you have to experience it to believe it. It's really a user friendly engine, very smooth and it has exceeded all my expectations. The chassis can improve and we have identified the areas we need to work on but it's only the first day we have tested the bike. It was so much fun to ride and it's a great day for my Dad and the team. It promises to be a great season."

His father is equally delighted to have his son back in the team that Kenny Senior kept going despite lack of results and financial constraints. Taking on the Japanese manufacturers first with his own engines and then an ill-fated campaign with the Austrian KTM engines last year, makes this first day of a new era even more special.

"The last few years have been really tough and frustrating for Kenny Junior and everybody has their opinions about it. I admire the way he kept cool because it was a very frustrating time for him. I would have not been the same because I'm a lot more aggressive in pit lane," said Kenny Senior. "Last year I think he would have won the Chinese Grand Prix in the rain until he had mechanical problems and I think podium finishes for him and the team this season are an absolute possibility. It's early days and it's going to be a very competitive season but the first day of testing on a new bike does not get a lot better than this."

MotoGP, 2006, Kurtis Roberts

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