RACE-TYRE PACE GIVES REASONS FOR OPTIMISM Kurtis Roberts qualified 18th for tomorrow's San Marino/Rimini GP here today, but was confident that he could improve on that position for the race, after running strongly on race tyres, but failing to...
RACE-TYRE PACE GIVES REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Kurtis Roberts qualified 18th for tomorrow's San Marino/Rimini GP here today, but was confident that he could improve on that position for the race, after running strongly on race tyres, but failing to improve significantly on the crucial qualifying tyres.
The difficulty was caused by the bumps on the revised and resurfaced Misano circuit, back on the MotoGP calendar for the first time in 14 years, and now reversed to run in clockwise. The track is bumpy, and the higher speeds allowed by qualifying tyres upset the Honda-powered hybrid to the extent that the son of team owner Kenny Roberts had to back off.
The KR212V machine uses a special chassis built in England, and with only one rider to develop the prototype and no chance to work on thepower output, the team has suffered more than most in this first year of the all-new 800cc machines. A day of testing after the last round in the Czech Republic meant they were able to record some progress.
The return to Misano, last used in 1993, meant that extra practice was allowed for riders to gain familiarity and engineers to arrive at gearratios and suspension settings for the race. But the weather proved uncooperative. Torrential rains yesterday flooded the track and the pits shortly after the first wet hour of free practice, bringing all proceedings to a halt for the day. This morning's free practice was extended from one hour to two for the MotoGP class, but in the end only the usual four hours of practice were available to all.
Pole position was claimed by Casey Stoner (Ducati), from Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and Nicky Hayden (Honda).
KURTIS ROBERTS: 18th position, 1:36.659 I think we're close on race tyres, and there'll be some guys to race with, but I was only three tenths faster on qualifying tyres. Until three races back, every time we used a qualifier it'd chatter off the race track. In Germany was the first time it didn't, and we picked up a second and a half. Today the thing was hopping off the race-track again - not chattering, just hitting some bumps and taking off. With this track, it needs to accelerate out of the slow corners onto the straightaway. We're struggling to get from point A to point B as fast as we need to, and there's nothing within the team we can do to help that. But we're getting better. It's hard to make leaps and boundsat a race weekend, but we had one test day after Brno, and that helped. For the race, things are looking better. We were faster than Elias the whole session, and I think we'll be right there with Nakano and Tamada. Overtaking will be difficult here, especially without a speed advantage, but if we get a good start I'm hoping for a good result. I think we can get some more out of the bike, set-up wise.
CHUCK AKSLAND - Team Manager I don't think our qualifying position is as good as it deserves to be. Kurtis was running strongly on race tyres, and with the qualifier he was only four tenths off at the half-way point. Then he ran into some chatter problems, more from the bumps than anything, and lost more time. But on race tyres he was competitive with a group of the satellite-team Honda riders, and he could have a good race with them tomorrow. There's a definite pattern of improvement, and Kurtis is working hard to get the best out of what we have.