Roberts Jnr to get Istanbul upgrades
Former world 500 champion Kenny Roberts Junior will run two modified swingarms at this weekend’s Turkish GP in Istanbul.
This has been done in a bid to solve chronic rear grip issues that have hindered his star to the new 800cc MotoGP era.
The 2000 premier class world champion confirmed the Banbury-based Team Roberts had modified the swingarms on his Honda-powered KR212V during the Easter break in response to his complaints about rear traction issues in the first two races in Qatar and Jerez.
The 33-year-old told MCN: “We diagnosed a huge problem that we have been having as far as grip in Jerez.
“When we get to a circuit on the first day, when the grip level of the circuit isn’t very good, then our bike is extremely good. That showed in Jerez when I was quickest on the first morning.
“But as the grip level comes up, I ride it harder and the throttle connection is more aggressive but the lap time is worse. When Tadayuki Okada and Carlos (Checa) rode my bike earlier in the year they both complained about the rear.
“And when I rode the Honda instantly I said it had much better rear grip, but we have never been able to identify the problem. You could put shocks and swingarms and all kinds of stuff in this bike and it’s always had a grip problem.
“I guess the area we have diagnosed we have never changed. It should change our performance because every time we have had more grip it’s been worse.
“Side grip and corner speed is increased but with no improvement in lap time. We knew there was a problem, changed everywhere the shock works, changed linkages, you name it and we have done it without curing it.
“The more grip we have we can’t really get from accelerating to braking again any faster. We go round the corner a bit faster but it doesn’t really benefit anything.”
Roberts Junior’s complaints are in stark contrast to those of riders using complete Honda machines like Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden.
They have complained bitterly about a lack of feel from the front end of Honda’s struggling new RC212V.
“We are at the opposite end of the spectrum. I can’t use a hard casing tyre because I just lose all feel. I can’t really compare anything to a Honda because I am on a different chassis and suspension,” added the former factory Suzuki rider, who did share concerns of the other Honda riders about a lack of horsepower.
“I don’t think Honda is happy so we can certainly have that improvement there. I haven’t been on pace enough to be in the same boat as Carlos and Melandri in terms of them using up their front tyres too quickly carrying corner speed to compensate for the lack of power.
“It’s worse for me because I’m not going round the corner as fast. So for me its real bad at the moment but corner speed dictates how bad it is.
“Entrance and mid-corner not so bad but our exits are where we are really struggling,” he added.
Roberts Junior also said the new tyre restrictions limiting riders to 17 rears and 14 fronts had seriously hampered Team Roberts being just a one rider outfit.
Roberts Junior has to shoulder the burden of tyre and machine development himself and he added: “The tyre rule has killed us for bike development.
“We ended up testing 10 to 12 pairs a day in the winter and it takes away a lot of hour when we should be develop the bike mode.
“Because we don’t have a test team or anybody testing parts of fairings and riding positions and all the stuff I end up testing Friday and Saturday on a race weekend.
“In the winter testing about two of the three days were basically just testing tyres and the last part of the day just testing stuff for the bike.
“And if we are testing tyres you are not testing the latest development tyres because you don’t know which ones are going to work so you are testing stuff a second or so off the bikes pace. Initially we spent too much testing tyres rather than developing the bike.”