King Kenny contemplates the return of his team but only if they could get financial backing
MAKING an appearance in the paddock for Yamaha’s 50th anniversary celebrations may have given Kenny Roberts a taster of what he is missing, as the 'King' would consider a return to MotoGP team ownership if a sufficient financial backing could be secured.
Roberts move into team management began in 1984 when after retiring at the end of previous year, the three-time 500GP champion continued in the paddock as the boss of the factory Yamaha team. In 1996, Team KR was born through building his own Grand Prix machine with backing from Proton.
The team’s fortunes were up-and-down with impressive pole positions from the Proton KR3 in the hands of Jeremy McWilliams. Moving into the four-stroke era the team were unable to find the same success, until 2006 when a backing from Honda and a Michelin deal saw Kenny Roberts Jr become a nuisance to the factory outfits, including involvement in the battle at Estoril with Valentino Rossi and Toni Elias.
"I would return only if the money is right to do it because we struggled for about four years without a sufficient amount of budget to do the job properly," said the now silver-haired Roberts in an interview with Reuters.
The 59-year-old continued: "You survive and I kept people working but you only survive, and I am not interested in surviving any more. So until something comes along that is feasible to do it right, then I am happy to do nothing." That nothing being playing golf and watching Kenny Jnr raise his family.
The American recalled, "Being an American as a racer when I started was tough because there were no good Americans. And being a team owner is the same because in America the sport hasn't really caught on.
"It's not like Europe. In Italy, it's easier to go and get your small sponsors to make up a shortfall but in America it's impossible. It's just not done in America. Nobody wants to know.
"The sport is growing and the four-strokes made it a lot more expensive and the sponsorships here didn't go with the growing of the four-strokes and the cost. So we kind of hit a brick wall." Team KR was disbanded after 2007 and the switch to 800cc due to struggles with the new engine displacement and promises of backing from a casino in Las Vegas fell through.
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