Team Suzuki's Kenny Roberts will be using the latest upgrade to the team's 990cc V4 engine for the second time at this Saturday's Dutch TT at Assen.

The motor - which has a revised 'big bang' type firing order - was used for the first time at the last round at Catalunya, and though he stopped to change a tyre, Roberts showed his pace when he rejoined a lap behind the leaders and matched them inch for inch to the flag.

"The new engine has made the bike easier to ride but at the last race, I had to use a lot of corner speed to stay with my group," explained Kenny. "When the tyres started to go down, I had to rely on acceleration. That's one of our weak points at the moment so I hope we can come up with some better power for Assen."

However, team-mate John Hopkins will be racing again with the standard engine. His Catalunyan race was also highly promising, though not rewarded with the result he expected.

In his first race back since suffering a broken thumb at Le Mans, the 21-year-old recorded his best-ever qualifying position in eighth, but was sidelined in the race by a rare mechanical problem.

"We proved at Barcelona that the bike can be competitive. I think that it can be competitive at Assen too," declared the Anglo-American. "I like the track and I've done well there in the past. My thumb feels a lot better after a weekend off and watching the soccer in Britain. I think it should be a good weekend."

Assen, the oldest and longest track on the calendar also has the highest average speed - more than 110mph. But there is hardly a straight worth the name and the circuit snakes back and forth constantly.

The high-speed changes of direction take the emphasis away from sheer top speed and hand chances back to the rider. And the classic Dutch circuit is something of a favourite for Suzuki.

"It's a track that has played in our favour in the past," said team manager Garry Taylor. "We hope it can do so again. The bike has made a marked improvement this season and the modified engine is another step forward.

"The team spirit just keeps getting better and better and we're all looking forward to this race," he continued. "At the same time, we are under no illusions. We need to keep the impetus of progress and the team, the factory and the riders are all committed to that goal."

Project leader Masahito Imada, who joined the four-stroke GSV-R project midway through last season, will be present to work with the team at Assen.

 

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