Saturday, June 17, 2006
Editor’s note: This is Jules’ Friday column; he was having connection problems at the GP.
Valentino Rossi headed the timing sheets after the first two practice sessions in a clammy Catalunya, and says he expects a big challenge on Sunday from Dani Pedrosa. No surprise there, Dani is racing in front of his home crowd, he has experience of a MotoGP on the track (from the IRTA test) and is a lot closer to the front than he’s been so far this season on the first day. But Dani isn’t second, he’s third. The guy who’s second is Kenny Roberts Junior on his dad’s bike.
Team KR are using a development of the chassis they debuted in France but it now incorporates all the feedback they got from HRC at the Chinese GP. This wasn’t new information but it confirmed that they were going in the right direction; the team called the information ‘clarification’. Kenny reckons that 50% of the HRC ideas were built in for Le Mans and another 25% added for Mugello. On the Monday after the Italian GP they slung in the other 25% and Kenny declared himself seriously happy with a 0.8sec improvement on his lap time and the bike’s behavior after race distance. He says the thing now behaves like a race bike; it doesn’t run wide when he gets on the gas, it worked at Mugello where you brake then slam it on its side, and it’s working at Catalunya where you run into corners on the brakes.
One thing is certain, the new chassis calls on the team’s experience with their two-strokes and has nothing to do with the old Formula 1 engineers who designed the chassis for the Roberts V5.
Kenny’s dad has given him one piece of advice though: it probably would be a good idea not to overtake a factory Honda on the straight again.