early GP years

""It didn't happen, Kenny got an exclusive deal on the bikes and that was it. That was the only time I've come anything like close to riding for someone else," The weekend in Brazil was still pivotal as far as the Suzuki team were concerned for it saw the end of Agostini's Marlboro Yamaha Team. Kenny Roberts got the agreement from Yamaha that gave him exclusive access to the factory machines. Kevin therefore would not sign with Agostini and hence the Italian had no ace to offer Marlboro. The cigarette company therefore accepted Roberts' overtures and gave him the budget.

Roberts then ended his association with Lucky Strike leaving them to hook up with Suzuki, replacing Pepsi who had failed to make very much of their two year association. The potential of the Pepsi Suzuki tie up was enormous and indeed Suzuki had been promised a great deal more by way of promotion than finance. There were photographs of Michael Jackson sitting on a Suzuki thanks to the fact that he was also contracted to Pepsi but it never quite matched it's potential.

Though that instance at the end of 1989 was the only time that Kevin got close to an agreement with another team there was another point at which he almost left Suzuki. Again it came down to the technical situation and whether or not he felt that he could win the World Championship with the existing men and machinery. "It was mid '91 at Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, I was fed up with all the questions and lack of answers we were getting from Suzuki. I felt we were short staffed, needed more people, needed the data recording, more testing and I really wanted them to bring someone good into the team on the engineering side. They said 'well the team we've got we are sticking with,' "

Six Wins and nine pole positions but only fourth in the championship. Lawson Rainey and Sarron were in front. Lawson had four wins, Rainey three. Saron's best result was a single second place. Kevin was winning the battles and losing the war.

"I said that in that case you guys need to find someone to replace me because I was going to ride for someone else. At that time I had no concrete alternative, I talked to Serge Rosset and visited his place in Annemasse but it wasn't a case of someone making me a great offer, it never got that far, I just felt that things needed changing at Suzuki and if they didn't change there was little point in me staying."

"They changed enough of the things to convince me to stay."

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