But what a frustrating weekend
Kurtis Roberts finished in the points for a second successive GP, managing to recoup 15th place after a difficult weekend at the revised Assen circuit for the Dutch TT.
Roberts, riding as substitute for his elder brother Kenny Junior,
is in only his fourth race, combining the role of test rider developing the all-new 2007 prototype MotoGP racer as well as trying to achieve results for his father's team. It is a tall order. Strictly limited testing time at each race is just one difficulty Kurtis faces.
“It was a frustrating race from the get-go. We've been frustrated all weekend”, he said. “The bike seemed to work fairly well on the banked corners, but on the long double-apex flat corners that close in on themselves, it was miserable. That's where we really struggled. There are four corners on this racetrack where we'd lose a second in each of them, it seemed like, because we couldn't drive off, and it's no secret we're down on acceleration anyway, so it compounds the problem. In my worst corner, I got pushed wide and I think three people passed me, and then they were gone. That killed us. We'd made a lot of changes for the race that we hadn't tested, and I wasn't happy with the bike until about lap 19. I figured I'd stay out and see what came to us. Luckily a crash handed us a point today when two riders came down. It's not like we're in the championship hunt, but it's better to get points for the team than not, and we've got to keep chipping away at it. The problem is only four hours to test at the race, and it keeps raining. I'm looking forward to Laguna, because at least I know the track there.”
The KR212V uses a V4 Honda engine in a specialist chassis designed and built in England by Team Roberts. Last year, the combination was highly successful, putting 2000 World Champion Kenny Junior back on the rostrum. This year's new 800cc engine meant starting again from scratch.
“We tried a completely different setting for the race, taking a chance, because we haven't really performed good all weekend. Amazingly enough it did the same stuff. He went as fast at the end of the race, with good times, but when it's new and when the tyres are new we can't get it to turn.
We made a drastic change, and it didn't make any difference - so we have a problem somewhere that we are having difficulties isolating. We're working hard on the new chassis. I don't know if it will be there for Laguna, but that's our target”, explained Team Principal Kenny Roberts Sr.
Saturday's race, round 26 laps of the 4.555 km Assen circuit, was won by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), from title points leader Casey Stoner (Ducati), with defending champion Nicky Hayden third.