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Kenny Roberts profile

By Dan Moakes
August 10 2004

Kenny Roberts Jr
nationality · American
born · 25 July 1973
grand prix début · 1993

As the son of three-time 500cc World Champion ‘King’ Kenny, some would say that the man also known as ‘Junior’ has had an easier route to the top. While he does owe something to his father, it is obvious that he wouldn’t have got to where he has without a talent and determination all his own. And a fourth 500cc title in the family is proof of this

1988
Motocross racing début

1989
Tarmac racing début

1990
Road racing début; five 250cc wins

1991
2nd in WERA Formula II championship, with Otsuka Electronics 250cc Yamaha

1992
4th in AMA 250cc GP championship, with Yamaha TZ250

1993
2nd in Spanish Ducados Open 250cc championship, on a Yamaha; World Championship 250cc début
Riding the number 75 Yamaha for Team Roberts at Laguna Seca, Kenny finished tenth first time out
Also finished eighth in the Suzuka 8 Hours, with Katsuyoshi Takahashi

1994 Marlboro Team Rainey, number 25 Yamaha
Roberts became a full-time GP 250 rider for the last four races of the season. He achieved three points finishes, including eighth in the United States, and sixth in Argentina. A total of 23 points placed him eighteenth overall, and his promise was clear

1995 Marlboro Team Rainey, number 25 Yamaha
A complete Grand Prix season resulted in eighth place in the 250cc ranks, with a string of results in the top ten. As well as a few appearances on the second row, Kenny finished fifth at Assen and Barcelona, and fourth in Germany. He scored 82 points in total

1996 Marlboro Yamaha Roberts, number 10 Yamaha
For 1996, Kenny Jr moved onto a 500cc machine for the first time, from round three onwards. It was a strong début season, with points in several races. These included sixth in Spain, fifths in Holland and Germany, and fourth in the Czech Republic. Overall he achieved thirteenth place, with a score of 69 points

1997 Marlboro Team Roberts, number 10 Modenas
With Kenny Sr opting to take on the Japanese with his own machine, the KR3 triple, ‘Junior’ decided to go into the new venture with his father. Results were rather less easy to come by than on the Yamaha, but Kenny rode into the top eight a couple of times, and picked up 37 points altogether. He was placed joint sixteenth in the final table

1998 Team Roberts, number 10 Modenas
With Marlboro’s sponsorship no longer forthcoming, things weren’t going to get easier in 1998. Although Kenny finished sixth at the Sachsenring, it was a solitary high point. A consistent finishing record still helped him onto 59 points, and thirteenth position, but big things were ahead

1999 Suzuki Grand Prix Team, number 10 Suzuki
An invitation to join Suzuki gave Kenny the chance of a competitive bike, and he made good use of it. In the first two races, he outrode the works Honda pair of Mick Doohan and Àlex Crivillé, winning both times. Doohan’s accident then meant the Spaniard was the man Roberts had to beat, but even another nine top six finishes were not enough. Despite four wins in total, in Malaysia, Japan, Germany and Argentina, Kenny was second overall with 220 points

2000 Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki, number 2 Suzuki
In a more open season, and with the Repsol Honda bikes not the force they had been, Roberts had his best chance yet. In thirteen events he started on the front row of the grid, and he stood on the podium nine times, four times as the winner. The biggest threat proved to be Valentino Rossi, who was still learning the 500cc class, and these two shared race wins with another six riders. Only the American was consistent throughout the year, and he duly took the crown his father had previously held, scoring 258 points

2001 Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki, number 1 Suzuki
Roberts appeared to get demoralised in his title defence year, as the RGV500 fell behind relative to Honda and Yamaha. This time, he could only get onto the front row three times, and top six results were rare. Despite this, he made the podium in Valência, along with race winning team-mate Sete Gibernau, when mixed weather conditions rewarded their tyre choice. The Suzukis were split by Alex Barros. Kenny scored 97 points in total, good enough for eleventh overall

2002 Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki, number 10 Suzuki
2002 could have seen more of the same, but Suzuki decided to put their 990cc four-stroke on track a year early. Although not on the pace of Honda and Yamaha, the GSV-R did go well on occasion, and Kenny’s results in Portugal (fourth) and Brazil (third) were particularly encouraging. With points in eleven rounds, his total of 99 was good for ninth in the table

2003 Suzuki Grand Prix Team, number 10 Suzuki
Last season saw Suzuki, now without major sponsorship, slip backwards in competitive terms. Despite getting the bike onto the second row in Japan, Kenny had a disrupted season, with just one result in the top ten - ninth in Australia. He and the team went into the off-season knowing there was a necessity to make some good strides forward, and soon

Kenny Roberts 2004 - photo by www.SportsPics.co.za
photo by www.SportsPics.co.za

2004 Suzuki Grand Prix Team, number 10 Suzuki
Kenny stays with Suzuki for a sixth season, in the hope that the latest version of the GSV-R will give him the chance to challenge for decent points


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