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Proton Team KR: PROTON CLAIMS FIRST FRONT-ROW START AT BRNO

Proton Team KR: PROTON CLAIMS FIRST FRONT-ROW START AT BRNO

Jurgen van den Goorbergh : Fourth Position, 2:00.949

Proton Team KR rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh claimed his and the machine´ first front row start of the season with a brilliant final qualifying session at the fast and sweeping 5.403km Brno circuit. Riding alone, in his familiar smooth style, the Dutch rider exploited the improved engine performance of the new Big Bang motor and the lightweight three-cylinder machine´s fast cornering potential to run several very fast laps, culminating in a flier to become one of only four riders to break the 2:01 barrier.

The new engine was raced for the first time at the last round in Germany, but the team ran into power problems and had a disappointing weekend. Almost five weeks of intensive development work over the summer break, and after successful tests last week, the new engine´s performance has been transformed, confirming the team´s continuing progress towards the lightweight racer´s full giant-killing potential.

Van den Goorbergh claimed pole position at Brno, a favourite circuit that rewards his high-corner-speed style, two years ago on the four-cylinder MuZ. But today´s fourth place was more important, he said, because it had been achieved as one of a series of fast laps, rather than just a single flier.

Van den Goorbergh has scored three top-ten finishes so far this season, and has scored points in every one of the nine races so far. The Czech Republic GP is the tenth of 16 rounds in the 2001 World Championship.

JURGEN VAN DEN GOORBERGH

The team has been working pretty hard over the past weeks since Germany, and the way to prove it was to get into the top eight. The German race was the lowest point all season, but we are challenging in a new direction with the Big Bang motor, and we kept trying. We still have to race, but we´ve made the first step. The engine is not perfect yet. It needs to be a little bit sharper, and we could have got a couple more tenths.Qualifying went well, though. We worked on finding a race set-up, with both bikes the same for the first time, then went for a quick time in the last 20 minutes. I´m ready for the race. Even with a race tyre and plenty of fuel I was able to run 2:01s. I don´t know if I can finish in the top three, but for sure I can go with any group. I can ride with anyone here. My problem is that the other bikes still have a little bit more speed, and on the hill at the end of the lap that means it is easy for them to pass me again. So at the finish I will be at the back of the group. If it is a small enough group, I could be on the rostrum. In the future, it is only going to be better. I am riding at the limit, but that has always been easy for me. We are still not at the limit of the bike yet.

CHUCK AKSLAND : Team Manager

That was well done, for everyone. The team has done a good job, and we haven´t had any problems all weekend. We just have to keep it rolling. So far we´ve just been fine tuning the engine and chassis settings. If the bike is good out of the crate, then you have an easier weekend and a good run in qualifying. We gave Jurgen the chance, and he took it.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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