The Suzuki MotoGP squad has officially confirmed it will part company with American Kenny Roberts when his contract ends in December, 2005.
The 32-year-old American joined the team in 1999 and became World Champion in 2000. In his first two seasons he won eight Grand Prix and reached the podium a further nine times, but since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP class has not been able to match these results.
Roberts was heavily involved in the development of the Suzuki GSV-R, and only GP legend Kevin Shcwantz has started more GP races for Suzuki. He was due to ride the final round in Valencia, but injuries from the Phillip Island race have ruled him out.
"Suzuki have always been honest and given me their best. Over the years I have made many friends here, from the engineering level, to the management, and of course within the team," said Roberts. "I am eternally grateful for what Suzuki ahs done for me. They have given me the chance to win a World Championship and I wish them the best."
Team manager Paul Denning commented on the decision.
"It has been a great honour to work with kenny during my first season in MotoGP. His knowledge and understanding of a racing motorcycle is better than any other racer I have met.
Suzuki has made this decision because it must look towards the future and the new breed of racers due to arrive on the scene. We must start to make planes for the enxt generation of machines in 2007 and beyond."
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