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KR jr. riding honda power in a KR bike.

781 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  JK_DILLA

Kenny Roberts Jr. ended the first day of testing the all-new Honda-powered Team Roberts KR211V with praise for the engine and awareness that there was much work ahead.

The Honda-Roberts hybrid broke cover on the first day of the three-day test at Sepang, Malaysia, the first major all-teams test of the new year. With so much work to do, lap times weren’t the objective. Instead the team got down to work on the extensive testing program that will take them from Sepang to Australia and back to Sepang, before heading to Spain prior to the start of the season.

“The hardest thing I think was just getting the first day done and over with,” Roberts Jr. said in a cell phone call from Malaysia. “Now we have a base to where we can improve within ourselves to what we have. It’s at a stage where it’s going to be the most raw and roughest and unproven situation that we will have all year. Technically, as a rider and as an engineer and as a team, it’ll get better, because you have hard information on what works in which way and what should be better for what issues you’re having.”

Added Aksland, “It’s key to remember this is the first day it turned a wheel on a racetrack and the first time Kenny’s ridden in about three months. Overall, we’re fairly happy in where we are and the direction and the areas that we need to improve. From here on out till we get to the first race, we’ll just work on those issues.”

The first thing Roberts noticed was the power of the Honda RC-211V five-cylinder.

“The motor’s awesome,” Roberts, who’s struggled on the underpowered Suzuki GSV-R the past several years, said. “I mean, better than I could have anticipated. Just so rider-friendly and the power, the way that it comes in it’s just like a sewing machine. It’s awesome. You can spin it when you want to, it accelerates hard in every gear. It doesn’t stop. Yeah, pretty amazing. “

At the moment, Roberts Jr. said it had more power than he needs.

“Right now, until we get down to a lap time where we’re racing with the guys in the front, there’s not really anything that I need,” he said. “I don’t need to say we need to work on this, because I’m not even racing with the guys. I’ve got to get up to where they’re at first, as far as running races with the top guys, then improve it from there. Right now it’s pretty awesome.”

Roberts Junior’s best lap time was a 2:03.8 mins., according to Aksland, which tied him with Fortuna Honda’s Toni Elias for 11th place among the 17 riders. (Roberts Jr. best race lap in the 2005 Malaysian GP was a 2:03.686.) Camel Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi set the pace today with a lap of 2:02.14.

“The chassis, we did several things today to get it to go around the corner a little better and it’s responding well to all of our changes,” Roberts Jr. said. “We made one or two changes that kept it the same, which gave us some other options and different directions to go. There’s nothing strange or drastic or negative about it. For the amount of time they’ve had it, it’s quite a good job. That’s going to be the biggest thing in our lap times to get right, but so far it’s pretty good. “

The chassis is the X-factor in the equation, Roberts Jr. said.

“We have so many proven things,” he said. “We have (Ohlins) suspension that’s won world championships, you’ve got (Michelin) tires, obviously, that have won world championships, then (Honda) engines have won races and world championships. It’s up to us to get the chassis and everything working and all the pieces of the puzzle to work together. Once we do that we should be as competitive as everybody. Until we get all the pieces of the puzzle gelling correctly, the lap times are going to be slightly less than another Honda or Yamaha or whatnot. From where we started today, we’re not a great distance off and we’ve got a lot more that we have to go through and have to get right to where the bike goes around the corner the way it needs to.

“At the moment, it’s not a smooth corner. Obviously the track’s different in many places so some corners it feels this or that. It’s not like we’re going ‘Why is it doing this? We need to tidy everything up to do things. It’s got to go from point A to point B, which is braking to accelerating and finishing the corner, just faster. Whatever we’ve got to do to make it do that is the thing what we have to adjust.”

The team arrived in Sepang with only one complete race bike. Aksland said they expect to have the second one ready for the Phillip Island test next week.

Coming off several seasons on the inconsistent Bridgestone tires, Roberts Jr. was happy to be on Michelins.

“The tires that I came off of, this is a pretty good track for them,” he said. Marlboro Ducati’s Loris Capirossi won the Malaysian GP on Bridgestones. “We did two race distances on two sets and then we had a third set and Michelin was pretty happy with where we’re at on lap times with what we’re using. They’re saying you can go to about this lap time with these tires and that allows us to work with on the bike. I actually went quicker at the end of the run as far as the first two sets. We did the quickest lap time on the last lap, which would’ve been over race distance.”

Roberts Jr. said what he needed to make the bike competitive was “time and making everything gel together and get back up to speed. Mentally and physically everything felt good. It’s just a matter of being intelligent and making the right decisions, working closely with the team and then putting ourselves in the right frame of mind to make good luck. The right place at the right time.”

Aksland agreed. “Like Kenny said, we concentrated on just finding a good balance so we’d have a level where he’s comfortable at and a decent understanding of the bike. Now we can start progressing through the list of items. No use throwing things in there when you’re three, four seconds, five seconds off the pace. Obviously, as the lap times drop it kind of changes the condition or the feel of some of those items. We still have quite a lot of stuff to get through. But we have a test at Phillip Island and we come back to Sepang and then we test in Spain before the first race. We have enough time and we have the backup support of the factory to react quickly to any of the needs the race team requires.”
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