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Proton Team KR ready for biggest challenge yet

Proton Team KR ready for biggest challenge yet

Proton Team KR ready for biggest challenge yet

Proton Team KR riders Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki face perhaps their biggest challenge yet this season aboard their lightweight three cylinder machines, as the MotoGP World Championship moves to Catalunya, and one of the longest straights on the calendar. The pair have sprung several surprises so far this season at tracks where they were expected to flounder, but the 1,047m straight at Montmeló is sure to provide a huge test.

`We have had a couple of surprises already this season, largely because we have two riders who give everything, and get the absolute best out of the machine,´ says team owner and former three times World Champion Kenny Roberts. `Catalunya is another track where we don´t expect an easy weekend, because of the long straight. But there are also fast corners there where our bike excels, and things have gone at well at some other tracks where we expected that our lower top speed would cause us more trouble.´

Roberts refers specifically to the last round at Mugello, where despite another incredibly long straight, his two riders fought for top ten places before experiencing engine problems. `Things were going well in Italy, though obviously we then ran into some major malfunctions,´ he rues. `At Catalunya, a lot depends on the Bridgestone tyres. We need an improvement, but they've been bringing new stuff to every race-track so far, and they keep getting better. It´s their first year in the class, and sometimes it can take a lot of time to solve problems. At the same time, they will have more new tyres there, and maybe they will help us out.

The shrewd American would love nothing more than a big result in Barcelona, but he is only too aware that his team may have to remain patient. `What we´re really doing at the moment is building for the future. We have a new chassis under construction, which we believe will be a major step forward. We´ll have it racing as soon as possible, though the working schedule at the moment is to try and get the new chassis ready for both riders for the next rounds at Assen and Donington Park – both tracks where we expect to do well. There may be some hiccups, and we may have to wait until Donington Park. We just have to keep hammering away at it´.

MotoGP, 2002

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