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Tricky first test for McWilliams as Byrne continues Aprilia education

Tricky first test for McWilliams as Byrne continues Aprilia education

Tricky first test for McWilliams as Byrne continues Aprilia education

Jeremy McWilliams had a tough time at Valencia today in his first test as part of the factory Aprilia MotoGP team.

The Briton linked up with fellow countryman Shane Byrne under sunny skies as the duo began work on their racing equipment for the 2004 World Championship. McWilliams, who has rejoined the Italian firm with whom he scored his first and the UK's last Grand Prix victory in 2001 from, crashed and ran off the track twice in his first day's activities upon the fearsome four-stroke.

He completed 62 laps with a best time of 1min 37 flat, which was only a second off his average lap at the Grand Prix in November riding the Proton, when he finished in 12th position. The GP of Valencia, the final round of the 2003 series, was the last time that the 39 year old had thrown his leg over a racebike.

"It's been a hard first day. I have been running, keeping fit and doing some motocross over the winter but I haven't ridden a GP bike since the last race here almost three months ago. It has taken a few hours to adjust. I was getting into positions on the bike that I shouldn't and it was difficult to keep my shape, especially when braking. The Aprilia has a notorious reputation and I have to say that it's true! The bike is very aggressive and the power is unbelievable. Our problem now is to try and tame it and get it directed in the right way; the chassis has a lot of potential to be able to do this. I am impressed but right now we just need time to get everything working."

British Superbike Champion and MotoGP rookie Shane Byrne clocked up 90 circulations of the eastern Spanish circuit on what was his third outing with the Aprilia. The Englishman confessed he was still trying to adapt to the speed on-tap but notched a laptime almost two seconds faster than his team-mate. "Like Jeremy I haven't ridden for a month or two so today was going to be about getting used to the speed again, which to be honest I still cannot believe. This was my third test but it is still my first GP bike and it is so different to a superbike. On the first few laps I was like ‘Oh my god, this is stupidly fast' but I soon got into a rhythm and put it together. Unlike Jeremy I don't have experience with this kind of machinery so I just have to figure out which way to develop the bike."

Both riders used '03 bikes with modifications while test rider Marcelino Lucchi was progressing with development on the 2004 model. The Aprilia team round off their shakedown duties at Valencia tomorrow.

1. Shane Byrne, 1.35.13, 90 laps
2. Marcellino Lucchi, 1.36.30, 58 laps
3. Jeremy McWilliams, 1.37.00, 62 laps

MotoGP, 2003

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