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The end of Team Roberts?

Discussion in 'Racing, Motorsports, and Track Days' started by rc36, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. Austrian motorcycle company KTM has announced that it is no longer in a position to act as engine supplier to Team Roberts in the MotoGP World Championship.

    KTM explained that the decision to end the supply of the 990cc V4 engine was based on a number of factors, including the change to the new 800cc MotoGP engine regulations in 2007.

    For 2005 KTM's stated that their sole aim was to be an engine supplier to a fully operational team, meaning that the company's primary interest was engine supply and not to support a factory-backed KTM MotoGP team.

    As such, Team Roberts were free to raise additional sponsorship and funding for the project, although KTM 'recognises that this undertaking has not been an easy task'.

    To assist the project further KTM said they have made available significant additional funding, over and above the cost of engine supply: They contracted and paid team rider Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and agreed to fund the supply of Michelin tyres for the MotoGP season.

    But KTM's budget did not allow for any request for funding over and above those three key areas - engine supply, rider contract and tyres.

    KTM management also considered the impact of short-term investment in further development of the 990cc motor, which would become extinct at the end of the 2006 season.

    For 2007, another significant investment would be required for an all-new 800cc motor.

    It is for these reasons, and in an effort to focus on their 125 and 250 GP projects, that KTM decided to cease MotoGP engine supply.

    In light of the new 800cc regulations any future involvement in MotoGP 'will be taken after a further assessment of the competition requirements best suited for the promotion of the KTM brand'.

    KTM wished Team Roberts 'every success in its future racing endeavours'.

    The KTM powered Proton KR has scored just one-point from the first ten races of 2005, with a lack of engine torque cited as the main obstacle to competitiveness.

    Team Roberts are yet to comment on today's announcement and what it means for the future of the KR/Byrne/Michelin partnership.

    Kenny Roberts Sr's team designed and developed their own V5 engines for the past two seasons, before deciding that manufacturer support was essential to take on the might of the Japanese factories in the four-stroke era.

    courtesy crash.net
  2. The King was always a better rider than an organiser. Le Conq won four World Championships in F1 but never came to grips with team management and the politics thereof. Behind every great rider is a great organiser, and rarely, it would seem are they one and the same person.
  3. It would be a shame to lose the team, someone has to provide the bike for Shakey to finish last on :LOL:
  4. Roberts comments on KTM Withdrawl

    The Proton KR race team has very little choice except to run last year’s race bikes for the remainder of the MotoGP World Championship following KTM’s decision to withdraw engines, but getting the machines ready for the August 28 Czech Grand Prix will be extremely difficult, according to team owner Kenny Roberts.

    Roberts said the cessation of motors from KTM came as a complete surprise.

    “Austrian motorcycle company KTM has announced that it is no longer in a position to act as engine supplier to Team Roberts in the MotoGP World Championship,” KTM said in a press release on Friday, August 12. “We got a letter (via e-mail) the same day they sent the press release out,” Roberts said.

    Since then, Roberts and team manager Chuck Aksland have been trying to decide on the best course of action to fulfill his obligation to Dorna to put a race bike on the starting grid of all 17 GP’s.

    “I’ve never reneged on anything that I’ve done in my racing career and in my team’s career,” Roberts said during a cell phone conversation as he was driving from Montana to his home in Hickman, California. “If I told (Dorna CEO) Carmelo (Ezpeleta) that I’m going to have motorcycles on the grid, then I have to prepare to do that. I have an agreement to do that. And not only that, my word is more important to me than my agreement. So I’m going to have to do that.

    “That’s what our shop is doing right now in England is preparing and seeing how many parts we’ve got and what kind of motorcycle it is.”

    With Brno not even ten days away, the difficulty of preparing a machine from last year’s parts is obvious.

    “I don’t think anybody’s going to Brno from our team,” Roberts said. “I can’t imagine us getting something together that quickly. No way. I’m not saying that it’s impossible. But if needed, I would be there.”

    That contradicts what Roberts said about having given his word to have a Proton KR on the grid.

    “That’s right," he began, "and if that is the case and the tires are there and the rest of the people that we have contracts with think that’s the right thing to do, then we’ll be there. But it’s going to be difficult.

    “This whole year’s been quite difficult. You’ve seen me at a couple of grand prixs and that’s it. I mean the whole thing was never perfect to start with. That’s the way it is. We’ll have to talk to everybody we do business with and have contracts with and see what we can do. And if the general consensus is to keep going with old equipment, then we’ll do that.”

    Roberts said that running last year’s machines “would be the only thing that we could do. We depended on the KTM motor supply. We’re getting to start making our own motor parts.”

    One of last year’s Proton KR’s had been put up for auction during the USGP weekend, but it didn’t meet its reserve. Now it may find its way back onto the racetrack.

    “It’s probably a good thing I didn’t sell that motorcycle at that auction,” Roberts said. “I knew there was a reason I didn’t want to. It’s in my museum in Hickman. We’ll have to pull it out of the museum. We have one more in England.”

    Tires are also a question mark. Securing Michelins was the responsibility of KTM, while Roberts’ responsibility was building the motorcycle.

    As far back as the Chinese GP at the beginning of May, Roberts asked Dorna’s Ezpeleta to clear up the confusion with KTM. According to Roberts, Ezpeleta spoke to KTM CEO Stefan Peirer and said that he was going to call Roberts, “and I’m still waiting for that phone call.”

    Having won world championships as a rider and team owner, and worked with companies worldwide, the behavior of KTM was unprecedented, Roberts said.

    “In racing, I’ve just never seen this type of thing,” he said. “Even our dealings with the Malaysians, you shook hands, and the Japanese, you’d their shake their hands, and you go about your business. This is sort of something new.

    “I’ve worked with a lot of people. This is very new to me in the racing business. We’ll just leave that up to all the people to make up their own minds. I don’t think that it was the best of all worlds going in, I don’t know. I’m just not used to dealing with people like that in the racing business. I supposed it happens all the time but I’m not used to it.”

    Roberts switched from his homegrown V-5 to the KTM motor because it had a lot of promise in the beginning, he said. The Roberts team could concentrate on building the motorcycle and it would get them a year down the road. But KTM didn’t develop the motor as much as the team had hoped.

    “We thought the engine would start at a better base, a better level,” Roberts said. “We had some options; that was the easiest option and we took it to get us through to next year.”

    Rider Shane Byrne has scored one point in the first nine races of the season.

    “I feel sorry for Shakey (Byrne), because he’s had to ride that thing all year,” Roberts said. “There hasn’t been much development.”

    Roberts said “We’re as shocked as anybody. There were misunderstandings, but only from sort of one guy, but we never talked to him. Kind of a strange thing.”

    courtesy cyclenews online
  5. They're resorting to anything at Team Roberts now:

    from [...]

    "If you recall, last month there was an auction at Monterey in conjunction with the U.S. MotoGP at Laguna Seca. One of the bikes up for auction was last year’s Proton KR race bike. Evidently, that bike was not sold because it didn’t meet its reserve which turns out to be a good thing since Kenny Roberts is now planning to use that bike again. (It also shows that someone had the opportunity to buy one helluva bike.)"
  6. I understand that KTM have done the sums and realise that it is not financially viable to support Roberts' team and have therefore ceased engine supply but it appears a bit harsh to pull out midway through the season.
  7. Very harsh... given that the main reason they are citing is the lack of ability to develop an 800cc engine... they could have at least seen out the season.
  8. Best thing they go do now would be to go and have a chat with Ducati....
  9. Source engines from them, you mean???

    They couldn't do any worse than Ducati, I suppose. The Roberts frame was always seen to be a good one, so it could work, yes.

    KTM are strange, though. remember they were going to do a MotoGp bike themselves and then said, no, it's too expensive, then they start supplying the engine to Roberts and now they pull out.

    Let's hope for Ant West's sake that they follow through with the 250 project.

    The main problem that they wll have regardless of what engine they choose, is tyres. Bridgestone just isn't spending enough money to stay competitive with the Michelins. And, until they can attract a few more teams to use them, the situation will remain the same. A real vicious circle.
  10. I see you're staying abreast of the latest developments in this story???

  11. I hope KR can pull through this. He will have a huge problem because he built the Proton with a very intregrated engine/chassis, so I don't think it is a simple case of 'dropping' a Ducati/Honda/Whatever engine into his existing frame. I know he had many problems changing from his crap house V5 to the slightly craphouse KTM V4. A completly new chassis was required.

    It was always a big ask from KTM (Smallish Austrian manufacturer).

    They could be a larger more ominous problem.

    Does this spell the end of the privateer in MotoGP?

    These sorts of engine/chassis deals are very common in Formula 1, and that is almost the sole domain of car manufacturers now.
  12. Well, look at the trouble Peter Clifford has had with the WCM!

    On the other hand, though, Honda is showing some willingness to be an engine supplier with its deal with Moriwaki, so maybe that could be an avenue too.
  13. Agreed on the WCM point. It's quite sad to see a team that used to battle for the Champioship win slide down to struggling to get bikes onto the grid.

    MotoGP will end up a domain of the manufacturers in the very near future. I would love to see KTM field there own bike as well as BMW (800 cc triple with variable intake length/variable timing, traction control and pnematic valves?). That would make 7 top class manufacturers battling it out. Not a bad thing really.

    You can leave the Superbikes to the privateers and manufacturers, which would not really be a bad thing as I am a big fan of the Superbikes.
  14. You could call it a practical, hard nosed business decision, or, you could call it a piss weak sloppy effort from a half arsed little bike firm who just shot themselves in the foot for future racing partnerships. They'd better get it right in the minor leagues because not too many others will be willing to put money on the line for a business that drops anchor half way through a season.

    FFS, they just signed a deal with Polaris which gives them a huge cash injection and opens up the lucrative US market, they've got the cash to develop an engine if they were serious.

    Good luck to the K man.
  15. Possibly a sad end to a very gallant effort.
  16. Maybe they can buy a Honda V5 lump for 2006?
  17. ....or Blata...
    bwahahhaaaaaa :shock: :shock: :oops: :LOL: :LOL:
  18. Trouble is, the bikes are built around the engines these days. It's not just a matter of taking one engine out and slotting in another one.