blurred past

Stuart Shenton joined the team as Kevin's race engineer after several years at Honda and before that Kawaski. He would require all that experience and Kevin appreciated the difficult position the new man was in. "Stuart had been dropped into the worst situation. `Here is Kevin, see if you can make his bike work better than it has worked in the past, Oh and by the way we're going to throw you another little curve ball, he's not going to be ready to really ride it until March. `So I think it was good of Stuart and the guys to figure out in the small amount of testing that we did exactly what changes we needed to make and to get them done as quickly as they did."

For his part Stuart found little difficulty in working with his new charge. "Kevin is very good, he won't try to fix the bike himself, he will just say what is happening. That is the best way, it then comes down to how you interpret it, that depends on understanding the bike and the rider. Obviously we've got the advantage that we have got a good data recording system but we are still learning about that. Kevin has a good `seat of the pants' feel that he describes what is going on fairly well."

He was also optimistic about having Chandler in the team. Doug influenced the decision to switch back to Michelin once the French company decided to commit themselves 100% to Grand Prix racing after a year of semi withdrawal. It came as a shock to Kevin when he found that the Yamaha team had also switched to Michelin he had believed that they were only going to be used by Honda and Suzuki.

There were tests in Malaysia, then back to Australia before testing in Japan at Ryuyo just before the Grand Prix. Suzuki produced a new very adjustable chassis which worked well at Shah Alam. Doug was faster by about half a second and matched Rainey's time from the Yamaha test.

Kevin was still working his way back to speed and was happy that the bike had gained power as well as an improvement in handling. Back to Eastern Creek Kevin got down to 31s so narrowed the gap on the Yamahas and was quicker than Doug.

Already thought it was apparent that Doug was demanding different things from the bike, his input during early testing when Kevin was not fit may have steered development a little away from what was ideal for Kevin. During the test at Eastern Creek Kevin jumped off when he ran off the track and was heading for a concrete wall, he escaped any real injury.

If Kevin saw Wayne as his single biggest rival going into the '92 season the result of the first round was excellent, Rainey fell on the second lap in the pouring rain and Kevin finished a cautious third behind runaway winner Doohan and Chandler who rode a perfectly measured race to second.

At the second round in Australia the problems that had been apparent during testing were still there Kevin qualified fourth but Doug was down in eighth place. Kevin finished the race fourth and half a minute behind winner Doohan while Doug improved to take fifth.

If Eastern Creek looked like becoming a bogey circuit for the bike Shah Alam capped that by certainly ranking as Kevin's personal bogey circuit. It was the second Malaysian Grand Prix and again Kevin missed the race following a practice crash. He flew home with an injured hand after the first session.

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