New to motogp.com?Register here

Tickets purchase
VideoPass purchase

Team Roberts could switch engine supplier to accommodate two rider project

Team Roberts could switch engine supplier to accommodate two rider project

Amidst speculation that Team Roberts could perhaps be changing engine supplier for the 2008 season, motogp.com caught up with Team Manager Chuck Aksland to find out what plans Kenny Roberts Sr.s outfit have for next year.

Amidst speculation that Team Roberts could perhaps be changing engine supplier for the 2008 season, motogp.com caught up with Team Manager Chuck Aksland to find out what plans Kenny Roberts Sr.s outfit have for next year. He explains that with Honda unwilling to support a two rider project, a different supplier may be needed to create a more extensive Team Roberts line-up.

What is the Team Roberts line up and package looking like for next season?

´We are still working on our sponsorship for next year. We have a couple of sponsorship prospects that look promising which we are pursuing; The sponsor interest is for us to run with two riders, so hopefully we will be able to put everything together to ensure a bigger and better program for next year.´

´Honda has already stated that they will not support our program with two riders, and we have no sponsor interest for a one rider program, so this leaves us looking for another engine supplier. First thing as normal is to get the sponsorship confirmed and this is what we are working on at the moment. Nothing is certain, but hopefully we should know what direction our team is headed in a few weeks.´

This year has obviously not been easy; what would be the main problem to address for 2008?

´This year I would say has been very disappointing, and the only thing that has changed in our team is the move to the 800cc engine and the tyre rule. I would say that both have hit us hard at different times. Sometimes the tyre selection has not been ideal, but in those times when it has been OK the tyres cannot make up for the performance of our engine.´

´Obviously Honda was caught out and their priority has been on their factory riders. You cannot blame them for concentrating on their own program, but it is very frustrating for us now when other teams have received upgrades and we are still working with what we basically started with.´

´We have had telemetry overlays from other Honda riders and our corner speed is identical to riders a couple of seconds a lap quicker. Where we are lacking now is mainly with acceleration, and it does not look like we will get any help in this area for the rest of the year. What we have is what we have and we can only do the best that we can with it.´

How limiting has the Honda engine restriction been for the team this year, as regards being able to quickly identify problems with the input of two riders?

´The engine restriction has hurt us in a few areas; development sure but looking at our situation now and our performance level we would have two riders yelling for more power instead of one, and that is out of our control. For us, two riders also helps create more exposure opportunities. More opportunities to get on television, more media opportunities in general to give benefit back to the sponsors who are supporting us. With only one rider, if you drop out of a race or are not running too good then it makes it more difficult to maintain a decent exposure level.´

Would Kenny Jr. be willing to get back on the bike in 2008 if there was a turnaround in the situation?

´Kenny Jr basically stopped this year because he saw early on with the level of assistance we were getting that to be competitive under this circumstance was going to be nearly impossible. He had great results last year and was mentally ready to do better, and that meant to be in the top five and challenging for more wins.´

´It was apparent at the first race that this was not going to be the case. He has shown that with the right equipment, he is still a winner. He has been World Champion. For him to run around in last was not a place he, or the team wanted to be. If we are able to put something together again where he feels he could have a chance to compete for wins, he may be tempted to do it. This is his decision. Whatever he would like to do, the team is behind him.´

Do you expect the main sponsorship deals to remain in place, and would there be a chance that the team would withdraw if the process ran until as late as it did last season?

´All I can say is that we are working hard on the program for the future. I try not speculate on the negative side. However, this decision is mainly up to Kenny and in the end this is a business and it needs to be financially viable for us to continue.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, GMC AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Kurtis Roberts

Other updates you may be interested in ›