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Debut day for Harada and McWilliams in Jerez
Tetsuya Harada today made his first track appearance in Honda colours in private tests at the Jerez circuit, where he lapped alongside fellow debutants Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki on the Proton KR. Harada, who will contest the 2002 season in the MotoGP class, looked comfortable aboard the 2 stroke NSR500 machine and was able to lap in bright and warm conditions throughout the day under the guidance of his new Pramac sponsored team.
´I am very impressed with the Honda NSR and feel I am riding smoothly already,´ said Harada, after lapping with the V4 machine ridden last season by Chris Walker and Leon Haslam. ´Today we are just trying to get a feel for the bike and testing some steering settings, but we will not be focusing too much on the set-up of the bike. This season we will be competing on brand new evolution 2002 models which will be available for the next test, so at the moment the idea is just to get a feel for the Honda and get some laps under my belt.´
Dust created by construction work currently underway at the Spanish circuit, coupled with a completely new track surface, meant that conditions were not perfect for tyre testing at a session organised by Bridgestone, but Jeremy McWilliams was certainly not complaining. ´I don´t mind what parts we´re testing or where we are, I´m just glad to be on a bike and testing so early in the year,´ said the British rider. ´It´s early days but so far I´m very impressed with the Proton. I didn´t know what to expect at all but the chassis is extremely good and the bike is very comfortable to ride.´
McWilliams´ team-mate Aoki was also pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 3 cylinder machine. ´The chassis is incredible, so comfortable,´ he said. ´I tested the tyres all last year so I know them very well. Now I am able to work on the machine settings too and I am having a lot of fun.´
Honda NSR 250 riders Emilio Alzamora and Roberto Rolfo are also taking part in the three day test here, with the Spanish rider now completely recovered from a knee injury which hindered his progress before Christmas. Italian rider Rolfo continues to adapt to the machine vacated by 250 World Champion Daijiro Katoh after switching from a private Aprilia at the end of last season.
From the 125 class Japanese rider Masao Azuma has been joined on the track by German counterparts Jarno Müller and Klaus Nöhles.
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