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Proton end ‘development' season this weekend but tests begin Monday

Proton end ‘development' season this weekend but tests begin Monday

Proton end ‘development' season this weekend but tests begin Monday

Proton Team KR are likely to be both relieved and encouraged to arrive at Valencia this season for the last race of the 2003 season.

The British based outfit have struggled since March using both the now uncompetitive two-stroke triples and also wading through the deep pool of development concerning their new V5 four-stroke.

With precious data and information garnered from the second half of the season after an enduring campaign with the 990cc four-stroke, that was launched in anger at the French GP in May, the team can now head into the winter months confident of evolving a prototype that will be able to challenge for positions better than Jeremy McWilliams' highest result recorded two weeks ago at Phillip Island with 11th place.

In fact there will be little time for rest as both McWilliams and Nobu Aoki will stay on at Valencia after the race on Sunday to test a brand new chassis for the bike.

"We're looking forward to this race so we can get on to the next step," said team manager Chuck Aksland. "We'll be testing a new frame that is more towards the 2004 machine, back to back with the old one. We take that information back, then build it in to the bike we will test at the beginning of next year with some redesigned engine components – the cylinder head will be the first, with more modifications coming probably after the first few races," continued Aksland. "The whole motorcycle will be tidier for the 2004 version … but it's more evolution than a complete overhaul," he revealed.

"We've raced the four-stroke for six months and we're confident we can make the chassis performance better. We know we need more engine performance, and we're working on that right now."

"Now we come to the end of a very interesting time," said Aoki. "Even in the flyaway GPs, we made small step by step improvements. I can really see the progress, and I know the factory has made a very big effort. I am looking forward to testing on Tuesday and Wednesday with the new chassis. I have been with this bike from the very first, so it is something special to me, and I hope I can continue with the development."

The team has still to confirm their rider line-up for 2004 but McWilliams is in no doubt where he would like to be seated next season.

"I hope this won't be my last race with this team," remarked the veteran. "I would dearly love to continue with this project. Some of the flyaway races showed a lot of promise for the future of the bike and it's grabbed my attention again. Valencia is a very stop-start circuit, and that's quite difficult for us. There's no problem getting the bike stopped and into the turns, but we get hurt on exit speed. We need a little more grunt! But Motegi is also stop-start, and I'm certain I'd have been in the points there, but for a braking problem. After the boost in Australia, I know I need to finish in the points again."

MotoGP, 2003

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