Kenny Roberts Jr.

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Kenny Roberts Jr.
Kenny Roberts Jr 2003 Japanese GP.jpg
Kenny Roberts Jr. on the Suzuki GSV-R
NationalityAmerican
Born (1973-07-25) July 25, 1973 (age 46)
Mountain View, California, United States
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years19932007
First race1993 250cc United States Grand Prix
Last race2007 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix
First win1999 500cc Malaysian Grand Prix
Last win2000 500cc Pacific Grand Prix
Team(s)Yamaha, Modenas, Suzuki, KR211V, KR212V
Championships1
500cc: 2000
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
185 8 22 10 9 1210

Kenneth Leroy Roberts Jr. (born July 25, 1973 in Mountain View, California) is an American former professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who won the 500cc Road Racing World Championship in 2000.[1] He joins his father Kenny Roberts, as the only father-son duo to have won 500cc World Championships. Roberts was inducted into the F.I.M. MotoGP Hall of Fame in 2017.[2]

Motorcycle career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Roberts first raced in the 250cc class at Willow Springs in 1990, winning 5 races in his debut season in road racing. By 1993, he made his World 500cc debut at the Laguna Seca Raceway event, and was a full-time 250cc racer for 1994 and 1995 with the Marlboro-Yamaha team.

Team Roberts[edit]

Roberts moved up to 500c World Championship racing with Yamaha in 1996. He finished his debut season in 500cc in 13th position overall and Yamaha decided not to renew his contract. He then joined his father's team in 1997, spending two years developing their Modenas two-stroke bike. In those two years, he struggled to get into the top position, finishing 16th and 13th respectively in 1997 and 1998.

Suzuki years[edit]

Kenny Roberts Jr. (pictured at Donington Park) riding his Suzuki in 1999.

In 1999, Suzuki signed him to their Grand Prix team. His debut race with Suzuki in Malaysia resulted in a surprise win, defeating the reigning champion, Michael Doohan. He went on to win the second race in Japan, where he again defeated Doohan. This winning streak put him as a strong contender to challenge Doohan for the championship. However, Doohan retired due to injuries suffered in an accident on the third race in Spain. Afterwards, the main challenge for the championship came from Doohan's teammate, Àlex Crivillé. Roberts failed to find consistency during the rest of the season, notching only two more wins and another four podiums. His lead in the championship subsequently was taken over by Crivillé, who later went on to win the title. Roberts would finish a respectable second in the championship.

He renewed his championship challenge in 2000. With Crivillé failing to regain his form, Roberts' main challenge came from Valentino Rossi, a rookie rider fresh from winning the 250cc title. This time, Roberts managed to find consistency by taking four wins and five podiums in 16 races. Roberts clinched his first title, two races before the end of the season, at the Rio Grand Prix after finishing 6th, although Rossi won the race. He became the first son of a former champion to also win the title. His victory also meant Suzuki broke Honda's six-year championship win streak.

In 2001, Roberts and Suzuki faced a tough task to defend the title. With Rossi dominating the series to win the title, Roberts only managed a single podium and finished the season in disappointing 11th position. This also marked the end of the two-stroke 500cc bike era as the regulations changed for 2002

Between 2002 and 2005, Roberts faced a difficult time in developing the new four-stroke 990cc Suzuki GSV-R bike to challenge Honda and Yamaha. He was also being challenged by his younger teammate, John Hopkins, who often outperformed him. Even in 2003 and 2004, Hopkins managed to finish the season ahead of Roberts. During the 4-year period, Roberts managed to gain only two podiums, one in 2002 and one in 2005. At the end of 2005, Suzuki decided not to renew Roberts' contract and opted for a younger rider in Chris Vermeulen.

Return to Team Roberts[edit]

He returned to his father's team in 2006. Honda provided the RC211V V5 engine with the frame being designed by Team Roberts and the bike subsequently named KR211V. He took his first podium of the season at Catalunya, having started on the front row.

A run of five successive top-five grid positions in mid-season showed the bike's promise. He again finished 3rd at Estoril, having led with one lap to go. Kenny later explained that he had miscounted the number of laps, and when he came onto the final straight with one lap to go, he expected to see the chequered flag, and that this distracted him and prevented him blocking Toni Elías' passing move. With these two podium finishes, he finished 6th in the standings at the end of the year, aided by riders such as Casey Stoner and Sete Gibernau missing races. This was Roberts' best result since winning the championship in 2000.

Roberts remained on his father's team at the start of 2007. However, 2007 again marked a new era as 990cc bike were replaced with an 800cc displacement formula. He rode the KR212V bike which are using the RC212V's V4 engine supplied by Honda. The 2007 season was less successful, due to Honda concentrating on improving the underperforming Repsol Honda factory machine. After only 4 points in the first part of the season, Kenny Jr. stopped racing midseason, replaced by his brother Kurtis, and never returned in 2007. Both Kenny and the entire team did not participate in 2008 season.

Career statistics[edit]

By season[edit]

Season Class Motorcycle Team Number Race Win Pod Pole FLap Pts Plcd WCh
1993 250cc Yamaha TZM250 Team Roberts 75 1 0 0 0 0 6 27th
1994 250cc Yamaha TZM250 Team Roberts 25 4 0 0 0 0 23 18th
1995 250cc Yamaha TZM250 Team Roberts 25 13 0 0 0 0 82 8th
1996 500cc Yamaha YZR500 Marlboro Team Roberts 10 13 0 0 0 0 69 13th
1997 500cc Modenas KR3 Marlboro Team Roberts 10 15 0 0 0 0 37 16th
1998 500cc Modenas KR3 Team Roberts 10 13 0 0 0 0 59 13th
1999 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Suzuki Grand Prix Team 10 16 4 8 5 5 220 2nd
2000 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Telefónica Movistar Suzuki 2 16 4 9 4 3 258 1st 1
2001 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Telefónica Movistar Suzuki 1 16 0 1 0 0 97 11th
2002 MotoGP Suzuki GSV-R Telefónica Movistar Suzuki 10 15 0 1 0 0 99 9th
2003 MotoGP Suzuki GSV-R Suzuki Grand Prix Team 10 13 0 0 0 0 22 19th
2004 MotoGP Suzuki GSV-R Team Suzuki MotoGP 10 12 0 0 1 0 37 18th
2005 MotoGP Suzuki GSV-R Team Suzuki MotoGP 10 14 0 1 0 0 63 13th
2006 MotoGP KR211V Team Roberts 10 17 0 2 0 1 134 6th
2007 MotoGP KR212V Team Roberts 10 7 0 0 0 0 4 24th
Total 185 8 22 10 9 1210 1

Races by year[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Bike 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Pos. Pts
1993 250cc Yamaha AUS MAL JPN SPA AUT GER NED EUR RSM GBR CZE ITA USA
10
FIM 27th 6
1994 250cc Yamaha AUS MAL JPN SPA AUT GER NED ITA FRA GBR CZE
Ret
USA
8
ARG
6
EUR
11
18th 23
1995 250cc Yamaha AUS
7
MAL
9
JPN
Ret
SPA
Ret
GER
4
ITA
6
NED
5
FRA
6
GBR
Ret
CZE
8
BRA
13
ARG
Ret
EUR
5
8th 82
1996 500cc Yamaha MAL INA JPN
12
SPA
6
ITA
10
FRA
Ret
NED
5
GER
5
GBR
Ret
AUT
Ret
CZE
4
IMO
10
CAT
Ret
BRA
13
AUS
11
13th 69
1997 500cc Modenas MAL
Ret
JPN
Ret
SPA
18
ITA
Ret
AUT
Ret
FRA
Ret
NED
8
IMO
17
GER
Ret
BRA
Ret
GBR
11
CZE
9
CAT
8
INA
9
AUS
14
16th 37
1998 500cc Modenas JPN
11
MAL
11
SPA
9
ITA
Ret
FRA
13
MAD
DNQ
NED
9
GBR
Ret
GER
6
CZE
10
IMO
14
CAT
10
AUS
10
ARG
11
13th 59
1999 500cc Suzuki MAL
1
JPN
1
SPA
13
FRA
Ret
ITA
5
CAT
6
NED
2
GBR
8
GER
1
CZE
3
IMO
6
VAL
2
AUS
10
RSA
22
BRA
3
ARG
1
2nd 220
2000 500cc Suzuki RSA
6
MAL
1
JPN
2
SPA
1
FRA
6
ITA
6
CAT
1
NED
Ret
GBR
2
GER
3
CZE
4
POR
2
VAL
2
BRA
6
PAC
1
AUS
7
1st 258
2001 500cc Suzuki JPN
7
RSA
7
SPA
7
FRA
6
ITA
Ret
CAT
Ret
NED
6
GBR
8
GER
9
CZE
Ret
POR
6
VAL
3
PAC
8
AUS
15
MAL
Ret
BRA
16
11th 97
2002 MotoGP Suzuki JPN
Ret
RSA
Ret
SPA
8
FRA
5
ITA
Ret
CAT
7
NED
6
GBR
14
GER CZE
11
POR
4
BRA
3
PAC
6
MAL
8
AUS
9
VAL
Ret
9th 99
2003 MotoGP Suzuki JPN
14
RSA
15
SPA
13
FRA
16
ITA
Ret
CAT NED GBR GER
15
CZE
20
POR
17
BRA
17
PAC
15
MAL
14
AUS
9
VAL
11
19th 22
2004 MotoGP Suzuki RSA
Ret
SPA
8
FRA
12
ITA
Ret
CAT
17
NED
16
BRA
7
GER
8
GBR
17
CZE
10
POR
14
JPN
Ret
QAT MAL AUS VAL 18th 37
2005 MotoGP Suzuki SPA
Ret
POR
12
CHN
Ret
FRA
13
ITA
15
CAT
15
NED
16
USA
14
GBR
2
GER
11
CZE
11
JPN
8
MAL
7
QAT
11
AUS
DNS
TUR VAL 13th 63
2006 MotoGP KR211V SPA
8
QAT
10
TUR
13
CHN
13
FRA
Ret
ITA
8
CAT
3
NED
5
GBR
5
GER
Ret
USA
4
CZE
4
MAL
7
AUS
14
JPN
9
POR
3
VAL
8
6th 134
2007 MotoGP KR212V QAT
13
SPA
16
TUR
16
CHN
15
FRA
Ret
ITA
17
CAT
16
GBR NED GER USA CZE RSM POR JPN AUS MAL VAL 24th 4
Source:[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Kenny Roberts Jr. statistics". motogp.com. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  2. ^ "MotoGP Legends". motogp.com. Retrieved 2 May 2017.

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Àlex Crivillé
500cc Motorcycle World Champion
2000
Succeeded by
Valentino Rossi