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His eyes, and those of the whole team remained fixed unswervingly on the task ahead, he beat Wayne in a wheel to wheel race long battle to halve the points deficit. Alex caught and passed both of them only to crash but even in doing so he proved that the Suzuki was truly competitive and certainly not a one man motorcycle.
Kevin had turned the tide at Jerez and Wayne got swept away by it at the next three races. In Austria Kevin and the Suzuki were in such great form that they dealt even with Mick Doohan riding the Rothmans Honda, the fastest bike in racing on what is very much a speed circuit. Wayne was third and Kevin had the championship lead.
Kevin had three Hondas to deal with at the Hockenheimring but after a race long battle with Beattie, Itoh and Doohan he flashed across the line behind Daryl to take second, aided by the fact that Mick had tyre problems. Honda speed helped Alex Criville push Wayne back to fifth and Kevin seized a fourteen point advantage.
The Dutch Grand prix was an even bigger day for the team with Kevin winning and Wayne forced to settle for fifth again. The Yamaha team had wheeled out a special bike for the race day warm up session, a Yamaha engine in a French built ROC chassis. It was very similar to the machine raced by a number of privateers and the team wanted to try it because the chassis featured 1992 steering geometry. It showed promise but they did not risk racing it at Assen.
A week later Wayne raced it and won the European Grand Prix at Catalunya. A slight rise in race day temperature took the edge off the advantage that Michelin users had, Mick was second and Kevin third.
Kevin had a rear tyre problem at Mugello
in the next round and could not carry his race long battle with
Mick onto the last lap. He still took second twenty seconds in front
of Wayne, who was absolutely furious at the performance of the Yamaha
with or without the ROC chassis.
Rainey battled front end problems that had alternately been blamed on the Dunlop tyres or the Yamaha chassis since the beginning of the year. Kevin was enjoying a real front tyre advantage thanks to a new sixteen and a half inch diameter front tyre that provided the rolling diameter of the seventeen but with better sidewall construction. "I think the new sixteen and a half was a big improvement, especially the way I ride."
Though still with the reputation of being harder on the brakes than almost anyone else Kevin said that his style was gradually evolving. "Last year it was more the same old standard way, in on the brakes as hard as I possibly could. Try and turn the thing as quick as I could and fire it out. As this season progressed I started to concentrate on maybe not getting into the corner as hard, trying to carry more speed through it and get out of it with more speed."
"More than anything was the fact that I could. The main thing that allowed me to do it was this year's bike. Most places the bike worked so well that you could get out there and try different things, you'd still stay in touch, find out which one was best and then make your move."
One of the few things that had appeared to be wrong with the Suzuki had been its ability to get off the line. In the first half of the season there were a couple of occasions when Kevin struggled but it turned out to be a matter of technique rather than anything mechanical. "We struggled a little bit with starts early on. We got a good start at Suzuka but after that had a few problems. What it came down to was that it was the way that I was approaching the line. I'd go out for the starting lap, stop on the grid, then I'd do the warm up lap and I'd do the first part of the warm up lap fairly fast then wait for everyone else to catch up. During all the slow stuff, through the last three or four corners and idling up to the line the bike was just loading up."
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