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McWilliams sounds battle cry in Jerez

McWilliams sounds battle cry in Jerez

Jeremy McWilliams is used to being the underdog and, luckily for Proton Team KR, he enjoys it. The veteran British rider has faced constant battles over the last couple of seasons both on and off the track. In 2000 he piloted the Aprilia 500cc V-twin to third place at Donington Park and pole position at Phillip Island whilst last season, on a privateer 250 Aprilia and riding for expenses only, he became a Grand Prix winner at the Dutch TT and took a further six top five finishes. As the 4-stroke revolution roars into the world of MotoGP, McWilliams faces another tough season on board the lightweight 3 cylinder machine but, as his rivals are only too aware, he is at his most dangerous with his back against the wall.

´I always seem to be the underdog but it´s much more fun beating these guys on machinery you´re not supposed to be beating them on,´ laughed the Ulsterman during the second day of private tests at the circuit of Jerez on Thursday. ´That´s what racing is all about isn´t it? Seriously though, if we can get this bike on the front row and finish in the top five or six then we will be achieving more than people expect. It´s nice to be involved in something there are no real expectations from, but I think if you look around here you can see that the team has increased two fold if not more in a matter of months. These guys are taking it very seriously, they want to win something and they want to be at the front. Hopefully myself and Nobu can help them do that.´

Despite the optimistic early battle cry, McWilliams admits that he did feel a touch sceptical about mounting his new bike, fitted with previously untested Bridgestone tyres, at a dusty Jerez circuit on Wednesday morning. ´If I´m honest I was a little bit nervous getting on the bike for the first time yesterday, just like anybody would be. I´m having to learn the ropes all over again but we´ve got five tests before the season starts so hopefully they will cure all that. At the end of the day though we have set some good times here already on a cold and dusty circuit so we´re obviously capable of a lot more. The Bridgestone tyres are good and we´ve got about 80 or 90 different compounds to get through. There´s plenty of work to be done yet but so far so good if you want to put it that way.´

Much is being made of the quick lap times already being set by the new 4 stroke machines, but McWilliams insists that the 2 strokes will stick the pace. ´Races are won from the first lap and if I can get in there quickly from the line then there´s no reason why I can´t race with the lead guys. We´re hearing all sorts of things about the 4 strokes. Apparently they´re doing 330km/h down at Phillip Island but on the other hand we hear that they can´t handle the fuel load for a full race and they´re cutting tyres up. We won´t really know until the first race so it´s best not for me to even think about them. All I´m focusing on at the moment is what we can achieve before the season starts.´

McWilliams´ team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki was also at Jerez today, as was fellow MotoGP hopeful Tetsuya Harada on the Honda NSR500. Official Honda 250 riders Emilio Alzamora and Roberto Rolfo continued their testing programme, as did 125 riders Masao Azuma, Klaus Nohles and Jarno Muller.

500cc, 2001

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