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Team KR: making steps over the summer break but still with all the bikes in Brno

Team KR: making steps over the summer break but still with all the bikes in Brno

Team KR: making steps over the summer break but still with all the bikes in Brno

Proton Team KR will use upgraded hardware for the resumption of hostilities at Brno this weekend. The break since the last round in Germany has given the England-based team the chance to solve teething troubles on the first version of their radical all-new V5 prototype MotoGP racer, but also to start to unleash more of the available horsepower.

According to rider Nobuatsu Aoki, ´It feels as though it has about ten more horsepower. You can really notice the improvement.´ Fellow Proton KR ace Jeremy McWilliams also tested the upgraded machine, and promised ´at least a second faster lap times, compared with our last test at Brno.´

But the final decision on whether to race the newest version of a machine has yet to be taken. The team will be taking last year's two-stroke 500cc lightweight machines along as well – after a strong double-points finish at the last round, the German GP.

´The bike came to the tracks for the first time less than three months ago,´ said team manager Chuck Aksland. ´It's still very new. Since its first race (the Italian GP, on June 8) we were putting out fires … trying to solve teething problems and reliability issues, and also getting the bikes ready for the next race.´

´Ever since the British GP, we've been focusing on problems,´ said Aksland. ´The break allowed us to address a lot of the smaller issues.´ These had included oil-control and seepage, as well as crankshaft weaknesses. ´We have a lot of that buttoned up now," said Aksland. ´There are many things aside from overall performance that you need to give the riders more confidence.´

At the same time, the crew at Banbury – the biggest independent motorcycle race engineering facility – were working on improving performance. ´The work was mainly on cylinder heads and exhausts, and has given us a little bit of performance increase from standard,´ said Aksland.

The latest developments only came together on the Tuesday before the Brno race, illustrating the project's punishing time schedule. The latest version of the bike was given shake-down tests at Bruntingthorpe airfield, with barely time for the engines to cool down before they left for the trans-Europe haul to Brno.

The primary aim is to race the new four-stroke at Brno, but Aksland explained that they will have race-ready two-strokes on hand as well, not only as a back-up in case of unexpected problems, but also because of the chance of another strong performance from the state-of-the-art 2002 KR3 two-stroke.

The Brno circuit is long, fast and the high corner speed of the three-cylinder two-stroke pays dividends over the rest of the distance. Last year McWilliams was able to climb through to a heroic seventh place from the back of the field. The team have another advantage with their Bridgestone tyres. Prior to their top-class debut last year, the Japanese company tested extensively at the Czech Republic circuit, and it is one place where the rubber's already impressive performance shows to its best, especially in the likely hot conditions, as the European heat-wave continues.

´The shake-down tests went quite well, and I'm pretty pleased,´ said McWilliams. ´There's definitely more horsepower now, and it seems the oil problems we were having are cured. Not having to worry about whether there's oil on your boots is probably worth another couple of tenths! I had thought we might be racing the two-stroke again at Brno, and it would be okay with me if we do end up with it. But the whole idea is to get the four-stroke racing, and the extra power should be good for about a second a lap. We're making progress.´


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