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Chuck Aksland catches up with

Chuck Aksland catches up with

Chuck Aksland catches up with

With Kenny Roberts Jr on a much improved run of form, including his first podium for Team Roberts in Catalunya, caught up with the team's Managing Director Chuck Aksland to find out the reasons for the rapid turnaround in fortunes.

What have been the keys to Kenny's recent performances? Really, it has been that the bike has progressed. Kenny has basically ridden the same. He puts maximum effort in every time he rides the machine. The development has been a progression. Basically, we had to understand what the combination of the Honda engine and Michelin tires required. It took several chassis revisions to accomplish this. After China, we made some steps. We were part-way in LeMans, and Kenny's lap times on race tires were quite competitive but we had an electrical part fail. In Mugello, we improved the chassis another step and then during the test on Monday after Mugello we again found some improvements. What we have now is a motorcycle that Kenny feels he can ride the way he wants to ride. His ability has obviously always been there to compete towards the front, you don't win a World Championship without that ability, and we now have given Kenny a machine that's allows him to show his talent again.

Were podium places expected this early in the season?

When we started the project, we thought it would take around Assen before we started to get a handle on things, so maybe it happened a bit sooner then expected.

What ways are you looking at to increase the bike's performance?

Basically just getting the balance of everything together working, the chassis with the engine and the tires. Having the Honda/Michelin combination has really allowed us to focus on just the chassis, which believe me is a big job in itself. We still think there are improvements to be made, and I am sure every manufacture thinks in the same way. To compete at a high level in MotoGP is non-stop development, and just because we have had some good results does not mean we are standing still. Our staff is working very hard to continue the development pace and we still have a list of items to test which we feel will lead to better performance yet.

Can Kenny continue to compete amongst the frontrunners in the next few races?

I think realistically to compete in the top 5 week in and week out is quite an accomplishment for us and not out of the question. If we sneak a podium in here or there, then that is great. Back in the 90's the team's goal was to be in a position to compete to win. If we can compete for top 5 places, then I think this helps us establish an opportunity to win again under the right conditions. The basic aim of the team is to achieve top results, and to build the program back up into a two-rider team for the future. Technically, we need two riders to continue the pace of development. We are trying do gather twice as much information as the other teams but with half the amount of track time. We also need the right partners to invest into the program and if we can keep our results consistent we are hopeful that sponsors will once again consider Team Roberts to be viable proposition for the future.

MotoGP, 2006

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