Teammates: Roberts and Mandela

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Reigning 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr is to meet former South African president andinternational freedom icon Nelson Mandela on the eve of next weekend's South African GP - inwhat the motorcycle racer describes as "a real big honor."

Roberts, who won the premier championship riding a Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki, will be joinedby the 2000 champions in the smaller classes, French rider Olivier Jacque and Italian RobertoLocatelli. The champions have been invited to a special reception at Mandela's residence nearJohannesburg...

where they will have a chance to talk to the Republic of South African's foremostelder statesman.

"I don't know what we will talk about - but I don't think it will be about tire choices orsuspension settings," quipped Roberts.

"All I know is it's a real big honor for myself and the other champions in our sport to meet aworld leader of the stature of Nelson Mandela."

Roberts, son of triple World Champion Kenny Roberts Senior, will be accompanied by TeamTelefónica MoviStar Suzuki manager Garry Taylor, who echoed his sentiments.

"When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in the old South Africa, I recall - along with many peopleall over the world - supporting the Free Nelson Mandela events. I shared the Euphoria with allthose people when he was released," said Taylor.

"To be able to meet him will mean a lot to me personally," he continued. "It will be a privilege to shake the hand of a man with a world-wide reputation for the highestprinciples, who made such personal sacrifices for his beliefs."

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