ROBERTS SAVES TWO POINTS IN STOP-START AUSTRALIAN GP
Phillip Island, Australia - September 17, 2006: Kenny Roberts Jr. finished 14th in today's rain-hit Australian GPs, one of the riders to come off worst in the first race ever that riders called into the pits to change motorcycles in response to worsening weather and conditions.
Roberts had qualified fourth, and was lying eighth in a close pack of riders when the rain made the track treacherous. He slipped off, remounting at the back of the field to be one of the last to call into the pits to change to his spare machine, fitted with wet-weather tyres and brakes.
All had started on slick tyres, but after six of 26 laps, the track was fully wet in some parts, and all riders pitted to change bikes, in accordance with the "flag-to-flag" rule introduced last year to prevent race stoppages. It was now that Roberts slipped to the back of the field, falling before he could get back to the pits.
His problems would get worse. His spare bike had a loose throttle twist-grip, making it very difficult to ride, especially in the tricky conditions. Even so, Roberts managed to get to grips with title contender Dani Pedrosa, passing him with five laps to go.
The 2000 World Champion was taciturn after the race, disappointed that he had been prevented by mechanical problems from displaying his well-known prowess in wet conditions; and from continuing a run of strong results on the England-built hybrid machine, marrying a V5 Honda engine with Team Roberts's own chassis.
Roberts raced with a special sticker on his machine, to pay tribute to Australian saloon car racing legend Peter Brock, killed in a rallying accident just over a week ago. The sticker showed the Australian flag, with Brock's racing number - 05 - superimposed.
KENNY ROBERTS Jr
The result speaks for itself. I had a loose throttle for the second part of the race. That was that.
KENNY ROBERTS Sr. - TEAM OWNER
Kenny came in the pit last of everyone to change bikes, after he fell down, so maybe our race was spoiled anyway. With the bike as it was, he could do nothing to recover. This was the first time people have changed bikes, and it was good for TV, with no race stoppage. Not so good for us.