KR implies that he was testing race tires. If that's true, add in that he was comfortable riding the bike at a very fast rate for three laps at .5 seconds less than his qualifying time or 1:45.032 seconds, then look out Yamaha and Honda four-strokes!
Every race track is gonna have it's own set of problems for Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki as far as race setup is concern. KRJ may have done well with testing at Catalunya, but Assen is an entirely different race track.
As mentioned by someone if the Suzuki can keep ahead of the best 2 stokers on any track it has a chance, otherwise it back to the drawing board.
1) A few riders had a few race laps in the 1:45s, but that wasn't sustainable over the course of the whole race. So comparing a 3 consecutive laps to the race winner's average lap time isn't very fair.
2) If he needed to, I suspect Valentino could have gone faster in the earlier part of the race. Meaning that if Roberts had run 1:45:03s on laps 2-7, I suspect Rossi would have done the same.
3) Testing isn't racing. You don't need to take blocking lines around corners, you don't have to ride to conserve your tires, you don't have to worry about Olivier Jaques taking you out, etc.
Don't get me wrong... I like KRJR, and I think everyone agrees that a couple more competitive bikes would make the racing a lot better.
And dropping a second or a second and a half per lap (Roberts' fastest lap in the actual race was 1:46:179, his second fastest was 1:46:440, his third fastest was 1:46:779) is certainly something to cheer about.
But that doesn't necessarily make him competitive with the Hondas & Yamahas yet (much less faster). Overall Roberts was about 1.26 seconds per lap slower than Rossi, but in the last 7 laps, Roberts' times were all in the low to mid 1:48s, whereas Rossi's times were all below 1:46.5, or about 2 full seconds faster per lap.
KR's times in the later laps would have improved if a higher point total was anywhere in sight. Capirossi was obviously much faster. Half a second per lap, 12.5 seconds, would have put him in front of the two strokes and just ahead of the trailing four stroke.
One open question is how do the new tires degrade on the new chassis/power management system. If they retain a half a second advantage over the tires they used in Catalunya, KR can be competetive. If they degrade more slowly, he can fight for the podium.
Another open question is how much of the improvement was tires and how much due to the new chassis/power management system? If it was mostly tires, KR has very little advantage. From his attitude I think it was more bike than tires.
Remember, if KR had been circulating comfortably in the low/middle 1:46s, he'd have been riding with Ukawa and Rossi. Rossi said he tried to run in the 45s but couldn't.
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