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Jun 18, 2002

Roberts Finishes Two Days Of Testing With Suzuki At Catalunya

From a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:<BR><BR>HOT PACE IN SPAIN BOOSTS SUZUKI'S ASSEN HOPES<BR><BR>2002 MotoGP Championship<BR>Catalunya, Spain, June 18, 2002.<BR><BR>Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Jr. was brimming with confidence after two gruelling days of testing at the Catalunyan GP circuit – "the best tests so far with the new four-stroke machine."<BR><BR>Blazing heat and exhausting conditions were not enough to keep Roberts from running more than 70 laps on both Monday and Tuesday, as a revised chassis and a series of other development changes kept levels of enthusiasm and excitement at fever pitch.<BR><BR>The factory's and the team's latest development work not only brought the 2000 World Champion a significantly faster lap time than he had achieved at the GP on the weekend before. They also opened up a new level of competitive promise for the powerful 990cc Suzuki GSV-R V4 – newest of the three Japanese factory four-stroke racing prototypes, after being brought to the tracks a full year earlier than originally planned.<BR><BR>"This was one of my best tests ever, and certainly the best with the new motorcycle," enthused Roberts at the end of the second day. "I'm really looking forward to the next GP, at Assen in Holland.<BR><BR>"The team found some different directions, and a new chassis from the factory also seemed to help," he continued. "We made a lot progress in areas that we hadn't necessarily expected to, and it made the bike comfortable for me to ride at a very fast pace.<BR><BR>"The lap times reflected it. I was able to go half-a-second faster than I had in qualifying for the weekend's GP, but I could do so for a number of consecutive laps. That is what's really important.<BR><BR>"We were all pretty tired and beat up after the weekend, but the progress over the two days meant that I and the whole team ended on a very high note. We have think we have the confidence to challenge for the top five, and we can carry that over to Holland."<BR><BR>Teammate Sete Gibernau also tested on the first day, but missed the second, after finally succumbing to an illness he had been fighting off all weekend. The bulk of the work – testing next-generation prototype Michelin tyres as well as Suzuki's own development – fell on Roberts, and team manager Garry Taylor was full of praise.<BR><BR>"Kenny ran almost three times race distance on both days, while the weather just kept on getting hotter and hotter. None of us had been looking forward to the tests after a long and hot weekend, but Kenny showed a lot of grit and determination, and that inspired the whole team. When things are going in a good direction, you can see a lot of difference in Kenny, and in everyone else as well.<BR><BR>"I think the whole team would like to thank him for his efforts."<BR>