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Chassis the key as Proton look to maximise home advantage

Chassis the key as Proton look to maximise home advantage

Chassis the key as Proton look to maximise home advantage

Proton Team KR take their home bow at Donington Park this weekend, with Ulsterman Jeremy McWilliams and his Japanese team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki looking to turn recent flashes of speed into solid results. Over the past few races mechanical failures have hindered the principally English team, whose manufacturing base is just down the road from the Derbyshire circuit in Banbury, but they are hopeful that a combination of home favouritism and the suitability of the lightweight three-cylinder Proton KR3 to the fast, sweeping corners of the track can combine to provide them with their best result of the year.

`Donington is a very unique track and we should do well there,´ says Team Owner Kenny Roberts. `We have the riders, and the tyres, and I´m looking forward to the weekend. But I have been disappointed at Donington in the past. We have to prove that we can be good there, not just say it, and it is important to us as a small engineering company to do that.´ $$$

The team has put together an unprecedented effort for their home race. There will be no less than six complete motorcycles available for the two riders, offering a choice of the standard chassis, and the all-new `wide-line´ chassis - which combines radically different tyre-friendly geometry with dimensions that mean it can also be used for the new V5 four-stroke engine planned for next year. Roberts remains unsure as to which chassis will be most effective at Donington Park, although both he and McWilliams agree that the key will be to make an early decision.

`The standard chassis is pretty good, but the new chassis offers a different avenue of development,´ mused Roberts. `It is better in ways it needs to be better for more horsepower, when we have our 990cc four-stroke motor. We will have one example of the new chassis for each rider, and I have the feeling that it will be very good round Donington - that depends on how much dry time we get and how many setting changes we need to make. But we won't be changing from one chassis to another every five laps. We need the dry time to establish the direction early on, and stick with it´.

`We have a choice of bikes - it will be up to the riders to choose their weapons,´ added McWilliams, who finished third here in 2000 on the Aprilia V-twin. `We got the standard chassis working so well at Assen that it might not be clear-cut which is better. I will probably start with the standard chassis, and see how it goes. The important thing is to make the decision early, and concentrate on one bike - not to be stuck in a dilemma on Saturday night. Donington is a big race for me, with a lot of pressure from the crowd. I believe I am able to handle that better now than in the past. It´s definitely worth half-a-second a lap.´

MotoGP, 2002, Cinzano British Grand Prix

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