Mugello : Team Roberts - Day 3
Kenny Roberts Jr. finished 17th in today's Italian GP, and brother Kurtis -- in his first GP since 2005 -- retired on the fourth of 23 laps. But in spite of the disappointing results, the only independent constructors in MotoGP racing could
mark the weekend as an important occasion.
With two riders for the first time since 2005 doubling the feed-back to the engineers, they believe they have been able to isolate problems that have prevented the KR machine achieving the competitive form of last year. Younger brother Kurtis has been drafted in for this and the next race, to provide more input and data to team engineers.
The Honda-powered hybrid, built in the Team Roberts factory in England, is now in a position to resume progress, according to team principal Kenny Roberts ... although only after "major surgery". It will take time, and the season is entering an intensive phase, but Roberts hopes that after the summer break new chassis designs will be ready.
Today's race, the sixth of the season, was run on a dry track after two days of rain, in front of more than 85,000 passionate spectators. Five times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) rewarded his home fans with his second win of the six-race-old season, with Honda's Dani Pedrosa second.
KENNY ROBERTS Jr : "It was a very quiet race for me. I never saw anybody after about the first or second turn. I rode as hard as I could, and ran a 1'53.7. I'd done a 1'53.5 the first day, and for the first half of the race I wasn't trying to finish, just to match that time. We have all the switches on the bike to alter things, so I played with them all race. I turned the traction control pretty much off, and messed with the engine braking, and started getting back towards the 1'53s.
Then on the second-last lap I pushed the front in the fast chicane, and pretty much tried to fall down. On the last lap I saw the track invasion, with people coming over the retaining wall, so after the last corner I didn't even attempt to go down the straightaway with any speed. If I hadn't seen them ... well, you could hurt a lot of good people with this bike."
KURTIS ROBERTS : "With the two hours we had in the dry, we took a gamble on some set-up stuff, and we made a plan not to waste mileage on the motor if it didn't work. We need to save that stuff. I was behind Kenny going into the last corner and I about ran off the race-track, not even going fast. After that I was having trouble holding the line, so I pulled in to save the motor. Hopefully Barcelona will be good weather all weekend. We have a feeling now what the bike does, and now we can move forwards."
KENNY ROBERTS - Team Principal : "We've isolated some of the problems. Kurtis helped a lot. Now we've got to build a new chassis. This is the first 800 we've made, and we missed the target. What we know now we should have known three or four races ago, but everything went good in testing, and the second race looked okay. From then on we've just been fighting a certain problem to do with weight distribution that we couldn't isolate until now. There's a major problem in the chassis, and I don't think it's going to be a quick fix. But we're starting to understand now what we need to make the thing turn. We've already started redesigning, and tomorrow it's going to be back to the factory and find out how fast we can turn it around. We probably won't have two of them until after the summer break. We got a late start on building the 800 and we're not racing a bunch of dummies. It just shows how difficult it is."