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Jan 10, 2002

Roberts Set To Test Four-stroke Suzuki, Checa Says He's More At Home On Four-stroke Yamaha

From a Suzuki press release:<BR><BR> <BR>ROBERTS PREPARES TO MEET ALL-NEW FOUR-STROKE SUZUKI<BR><BR>January 10.<BR><BR>Kenny Roberts Jr will meet the brave new world of Grand Prix racing for the first time on January 19, when he and Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki team-mate Sete Gibernau fly to the factory test circuit in Japan for their first encounter with Suzuki's all-new four-stroke XRE0 MotoGP racer.<BR><BR>And the American 500cc World Champion in 2000 is keeping a cool head as he prepares for the encounter with the 990cc V4 that the teamsters will race in the first new MotoGP season of 2002 – the premier class now open to 990cc four-strokes as well as 500cc two-strokes.<BR><BR>"I haven't been speculating about the new bike. I don't care if we're racing four-strokes, two-strokes, or twins. I don't care if we're all on pink bikes – I just want to get back to beating Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi, as I've done before" said the Californian son-of-a-legend, in a break to his training regime that is gathering pace as the season draws near.<BR><BR>Since Christmas, Roberts has been intensifying his carefully structured programme – spending two hours a day in gymnasium training, and another four or more out riding, concentrating on the oval dirt-track discipline that is a cornerstone of GP racing technique.<BR><BR>Roberts plans to rely on his usual resources in the season to come, confident that the Suzuki factory's bold new four-stroke racer represents a similar commitment on its part. Suzuki is steeped in GP racing, with race and championship wins dating back to the Sixties.<BR><BR>"I'm not in racing to finish in the top-10, and the same thing is true of Suzuki," said Roberts. "We all want to win. Next week, I get my first ride on the new bike – but to be honest I haven't been wondering about what it will be like, or thinking about the four-stroke too much. I'm focused on myself, and in putting in the time and effort to be capable of winning GPs. I want to be in the right frame of mind."<BR><BR>As well as the switch from the V4 500cc two-stroke engine to the powerful new fuel-injected V4 990cc four-stroke, the team will be changing from Michelin to Dunlop tyres, adding another significant variable.<BR><BR>"The new bike and the new Dunlop tyres are a decision by the Suzuki factory," said Roberts, now in his fourth year with the factory Suzuki team. "I go along with whatever decisions they make that will make the bike faster.<BR><BR>"I've raced with Dunlop tyres before, and they feel different, and require a different riding technique," said Roberts. "In any case, the new MotoGP machine will have a different power character again, and a different power-to-weight ratio, so again we have to wait and see.<BR><BR>"I'm looking on us using different tyres as another possible advantage. It's going to be a tough test – grand prix racing's pretty cut-throat at the moment. I'm confident that both Dunlop and Suzuki are going into this with the aim of winning.<BR><BR>"The fact that the factory brought the four-stroke programme forward to race the machine this season instead of next year means they've obviously had good results in their tests. I'll be seeing for myself next week. I've never raced a four-stroke, but I've always been sure that you'll have the same people able to win races on either type of machine," said Roberts.<BR><BR>"From that point of view, it's just business as usual – and we're styling. My only goal is to try and win the World Championship again."<BR><BR>Next week's tests are shake-down runs for the two regular riders, who will join Suzuki's regular factory testers at the Ryuo test circuit. This gives the factory race department the chance to tail-fit the bikes to the full-time riders, before testing begins in earnest in Malaysia in the first week of February.<BR><BR>www.suzuki-racing.com is currently being redesigned to make it the premier site to visit for information on Suzuki's world racing activities. The new site will be live from mid-January and will keep you up-to-date on all of the rider's comments and thoughts on the new four-stroke XRE0 GP bike, so add it to your bookmarks now.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>From a Marlboro Yamaha press release:<BR><BR>NEW YAMAHA YZR-M1 PRESENTATION<BR>Barcelona, Spain<BR>Thursday January 10 2002<BR><BR>CARLOS CHECA LOOKS FORWARD TO BEST EVER SEASON<BR><BR>Carlos Checa believes he can enjoy his best ever world championship season in this year's new look MotoGP series. Speaking at the official Spanish<BR>presentation of the new Yamaha YZR-M1, organised by Yamaha Motor Espana and hosted at the Segura Viudas winery outside Barcelona, Checa said that he already feels totally at ease with the factory's all new 200 horsepower four-stroke.<BR><BR>"I can push the bike to the limits, I feel more confident with this machine than I've felt with the 500 two-stroke," said the Spaniard, who finished 6th in last year's 500 world championship and is now preparing for his fourth season with the Marlboro Yamaha Team. "I think I can do better than I did on the two-stroke, and the fact that we have continuity in the team is very important. I've always trusted Yamaha and this year I'm more confident because I have Antonio Jiminez as my crew chief. Being able to communicate in Spanish will speed things up for me."<BR><BR>Checa has already completed several thousand kilometres of testing on the YZR-M1, and is now in training for his first outing of 2002, at next month's team test in Spain.<BR><BR>New Team Director Davide Brivio has already witnessed Checa and teammate Biaggi in action on the M1 and reckons that both men have a very real chance of winning the first ever MotoGP world championship.<BR><BR>"I believe that we have the best combination of riders and machines, both Max and Carlos are capable of winning the championship," said Brivio, who recently took up his new post with the team, operating out of its new base near Milan, Italy. "The M1 is a new project and that means additional motivation for Carlos. I think it's going to be a great season with four manufacturers all choosing different four-stroke solutions."<BR><BR>The Italian presentation of the YZR-M1 follows tomorrow, Friday, with Biaggi speaking to the media at a function in Milan.