Team Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Jr. enjoyed one of his best days - in what has been a difficult season - at Estoril today, the 2000 world champion qualifying a promising tenth on the troublesome Suzuki.

Roberts put his performance down to using his own input, rather than any radical technical developments.

"This track is quite technical, and the rider can make quite a bit of difference by using the right lines and approaching the track correctly. Otherwise, it's business as usual down here," said Roberts. "We're not trying anything radically different than Czecho. I did a 40.9 last year, and a 40.5 today, so it's nice to be a little bit quicker."

Backing up Kenny's theory that Estoril is a circuit you need experience on, 20-year-old team-mate John Hopkins was a second slower - placing him 17th - but the Anglo-American is confident there's more to come as he gains knowledge of the twisty track.

"Basically, this track is not my favourite or my worst, but it is definitely challenging. There are so many things to look out for on the first day, especially after coming from Brno, which is so wide. You find yourself getting caught out on such a tight, narrow track," Hopper explained. "Basically I'm still learning the place. I've been here a few times, but I seem to keep learning more. It's a big challenge.

"For the bike, we've been chipping away at set-ups, and we found a pretty big improvement this afternoon from the morning, and now we're trying to get better again off that. We know there's room to improve both for myself and the bike, so we'll go better tomorrow," he stated.

Meanwhile, both Roberts and Hopkins were seen testing a new semi-silenced exhaust system (pictured) on one of their pair of machines today.

The Yoshimura silencers are used in Japan by the factory test riders to comply with noise regulations at the factory test track - and could be a reason why engine developments from Japan don't always seem to work for the GP team.

Regardless, Suzuki reported that they were not suffering the same carburetion difficulties as those teams running un-silenced bikes, and that the silencers offered more consistent engine responses, without significantly affecting overall performance.

"The silenced bike is basically a little smoother off the bottom, which is a help at a track like this," explained Hopkins.

 

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