ROBERTS ON ROW TWO AT RAIN-HIT MALAYSIAN GP Sepang, Malaysia - September 9, 2006: Kenny Roberts Jr will start tomorrow's Malaysian GP from the second row of the grid, after setting fourth-fastest time in the three free practice sessions...
ROBERTS ON ROW TWO AT RAIN-HIT MALAYSIAN GP
Sepang, Malaysia - September 9, 2006: Kenny Roberts Jr will start tomorrow's Malaysian GP from the second row of the grid, after setting fourth-fastest time in the three free practice sessions yesterday and today.
The 2000 World Champion, riding a Honda-powered KR211V machine for his father's team, was ahead of all but one of the Hondas, using the same V5 engine.
The decision to base the grid on free practice times came after torrential and persistent rain meant the official hour-long qualifying session was cancelled, after several delays. The rain had stopped by the time the final cancellation came after four pm, more than two hours after the scheduled 2pm start, but parts of the 5.548 km track were still dangerously wet, with running water. It is the first time since 1997 in Austria that a final practice session has been cancelled.
Roberts had been third on the opening day, and lost one place in the morning session, which at that time was not crucial for starting position, after improving his Friday lap time by seven tenths of a second. His situation could have been worse. As for the past several races, the 2000 World Champion had taken a run with a soft qualifying tyre, which meant he stayed among the fast runners, all of whom had done the same.
This maintained Kenny Junior's excellent qualifying record, after revisions to the England-built Team Roberts chassis eight races ago. He has been on the front row of the grid four times since then.
Junior, one of three riders on the safety panel, was consulted on the state of the track, and fully agreed with the decision to cancel the session.
KENNY ROBERTS JR - Fourth position
I've been testing qualifying tyres in free practice for some time ... everybody does. I did two laps on mine, though they're only supposed to do one. But I don't care where I start. Anywhere from the third row up is okay for me.
There was nothing special this morning. We expected to have another session, so nothing really came out of it. We're going to race the same bike I was third on yesterday afternoon, on race tyres.
I went to the safety meeting, and everybody said it was too dangerous. I didn't go out in the safety car, but everybody's pretty intelligent round here, and you could see the spray from the car how much water there was.
I think they are going to work on the drainage tonight. It doesn't look like it's working at the top part of the track, where the water is running across the track. They were pulling mud out from there. A torrential downpour is one thing, but after it's over and it's postponed for 15 minutes, then those rivers should stop. The rest of the track is quite dry now. That's just one more thing that we need to learn from this, in the riders' Safety Commission, and from the organisation side ... that the first thing you do at any circuit is clean the drains out.
KENNY ROBERTS - TEAM OWNER
We've been trying qualifying tyres in free practice ever since we started qualifying good. Before that we'd put them on at the end of the qualifying session and the bike would chatter so bad it was slower than on race tyres. You need to get the bike working on qualifiers before the final session. Because we did that, Junior qualified well today.
-credit: team roberts