Japanese GP: Team Roberts Saturday notes

Motegi, Japan - September 23, 2006: Team Roberts' Kenny Roberts Jr. qualified 14th for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit, on a chassis that arrived only the day before practice began. Roberts stayed with the "New ...

Motegi, Japan - September 23, 2006: Team Roberts' Kenny Roberts Jr. qualified 14th for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit, on a chassis that arrived only the day before practice began.

Roberts stayed with the "New Generation" chassis, an update of one previously tested, but never raced. The chassis arrived from the team's workshop in Banbury on Thursday, with the team assembling the complete race bike in under two hours.

"It's constructed differently than the old one," team owner Kenny Roberts said. "The newer ones have the shock mounted to the chassis, rather than mounted to the swingarm. So that's our new generation; different construction, different steering head, different down spars. It's a different way to try to get ahead of the game."

The chassis is meant to counter a lack of rear grip that cropped up around the Malaysian Grand Prix, the first of the three flyaways. Where the KR211V powered by Honda seems to struggle is on tracks with high grip, such as Motegi. A different setting on the Ohlins rear shock helped with rear grip and how the exited Motegi's many slow corners.

But a chattering problem negated much of the positive work and Roberts struggled to match his morning pace, when he was the sixth fastest rider. Fitting a qualifying tire only exacerbated the chatter problem, which prevented Roberts from qualifying higher up the order.

Instead he'll start Sunday's 15th round of the MotoGP World Championship from the fifth row.

KENNY ROBERTS Jr

Basically, we jumped into qualifying and just had chatter in the front. It kind of solidified my lap time. The faster I went the more chatter I got. It's hard because it's just one of those perfect moments when trying-with a high grip circuit-to develop really hurt us. A lot of things on this bike we need to prove work by the end of the year. Sometimes I have to take the initiative to say, OK, we've got to run it. One thing's testing and the other thing is actual racing with other guys. We just got hung out to dry with the chatter. We kind of got a qualifier in late. We kind of had a bad day as far as that goes. Basically, I think if I get a good start, and hopefully everybody will get in each other's way, I can sneak into the top ten by the first couple of laps. I think from there I should be able to make some progress.

KENNY ROBERTS

We've been trying to get a little bit easier to ride it fast. We need to improve our race pace for the total race. That's what we've been lacking. Some of it has to do with the stiffness of the chassis. When there's no grip on the racetrack, we're fairly good right away, then we tend to get a little bit less competitive as the race comes around. Some of that we felt that the stiffness of the chassis was down a little bit, which makes it easier to ride when it's a little slippery, has a little bit more feel. But as the grip improves, it gets a little bit loose.

-credit: tr

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Kenny Roberts Jr.