Thursday, April 06, 2006
Who’d have thought it? A Roberts bike on provisional pole with a Roberts on it.
Kenny Junior had a step-by step explanation: “The fastest motor, great tires and a team capable of building a great bike around them.” Then he added: “Sooner or later the funding will match it,” and by way of a parting shot: “We’ll have a complete new bike for Le Mans.”
The Roberts team have certainly done a great job and Kenny was in sixth or seventh for most of the session before tailing Capirossi’s Ducati on the last lap of the session and taking over a third of a second off his lap time. One factor that’s made life easier for KR is the move from the type of Michelins used by Yamaha to constructions used by Honda. Team KR originally went with the Yamaha style because of their history and their use of Ohlins suspension but Kenny found the front didn’t work as he’d wish in the Jerez race two weeks ago. If the KR211V is going that quick while they are still making enormous set-up changes how good will it be when the new bike with what Kenny characterizes as “all the tolerances sorted out” arrives?
The other surprise of the first day of practice was rookie Casey Stoner, who was fastest in the morning session and second this afternoon. We knew he was quick, but how was he that quick after arriving at the local airport at 8am after about 48 hours of delays on his way from Australia including a night of little sleep in the Dubai airport duty free shop.
Valentino Rossi was down in sixth but he did reminded the press that he had gone half-a-second quicker than Roberts in testing here back in February.
Qualifying should be interesting as Rossi has now gone three races without a win, his longest barren spell since joining Yamaha two seasons ago.