KURTIS ROBERTS PUTS NEW BIKE THROUGH ITS PACES
Kurtis Roberts, riding in only sixth MotoGP event since returning mid-season, qualified 18th for his home grand prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on a motorcycle that didn't exist only days earlier.
The motorcycle chassis and other critical pieces were brought to Monterey from the team's headquarters in Banbury, Oxforshire as checked luggage on Wednesday. The construction of the motorcycle went smoothly and Kurtis was able to get straight to work when practice began at the scenic course in the hills of Monterey on Friday morning.
With only three hours on the new Honda-powered KR212V prior to qualifying, Kurtis was able to set his best time of the weekend, a lap of 1:23.662 mins. The lap time was only 1.370 seconds off pole position, further proof of the competitiveness of the MotoGP class.
Roberts was involved in an incident with his friend Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda) early in the session. Melandri clipped Roberts' boot exiting turn two and tumbled into the gravel. Though he was transported by ambulance back to the pits, he was mostly unhurt and able to continue. He later returned to the track and qualified 10th.
Today's qualifying session was run in warm sunshine, with more of the same expected for tomorrow's race, the 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship.
KURTIS ROBERTS - 18th Position, 1:23.662
The bike's a lot better. It turns a lot better. It finishes the corner off better. Before it would enter like normal, like all of them do, but once you got it over on your side, it just kept pushing out, it just kept going straight. Where now it just turns in. It was a lot better than it has been so far. We're 1.3 seconds off and you're 18th, it shows you how tight and how competitive and how good everything has to be to be up there. As far as tires, we were going alright, but with the race tires we got up to 14th or something. Put the qualifiers in and it's just trying to get from point A to point B as fast as it can and it's just those couple ticks that are slowing us down right now. Now it's down to picking race tires and at this moment it is going to be a tough choice.
KENNY ROBERTS - TEAM PRINCIPAL
That's a new bike. Showed up Wednesday, put it all together, everything fit, and we've been on it ever since. We're struggling a little bit, but we're getting closer. This afternoon we went back to closer to where we were yesterday. I think he's alright with all of that. We're having trouble deciding which tires are better than the other ones. We struggled this morning with front grip. We've sort of got that sorted out. So I think we've got a fairly decent race combination. Depends on the racetrack. If the racetrack gets a little more running on it it'll start coming to us. Now, it's a bit too far away.