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Proton Team KR schedule first preseason test at Valencia

Proton Team KR schedule first preseason test at Valencia

Proton Team KR schedule first preseason test at Valencia

Proton Team KR are hoping to clock up their first laps with the 2004 version of their V5 machine at the Valencia circuit in Spain on the 6th and 7th March. Team Manager Chuck Aksland confirmed to today that both the engineers and riders were looking forward to returning to track action after a long and frustrating winter but added that he was confident the new machine would prove to be a major step up from last year's model despite a lack of testing time so far.

"The new bike is almost ready and we're hopeful we can get it on track at Valencia," commented Aksland. "We're taking things step by step and we won't rush things now, but that is definitely our target. Obviously it has been a frustrating wait for the whole team, especially the riders, with so many tests going on out at Sepang and Phillip Island but we know we have a better product than last season and we are confident we will be competitive. We have three tests pencilled in over the coming weeks so Kurtis (Roberts) and Nobu (Aoki) will have the chance to clock up plenty of miles before the first race and we just have to be patient."

Aksland added that the new machine was not radically different to last year's effort, with the major changes being a new chassis, engine modifications and new bodywork. However, it is the first complete motorcycle designed by former F1 guru John Barnard, who joined Proton Team KR as Technical Director in January 2003, and Aksland believes MotoGP fans will be impressed.

"This bike is really John's baby and in terms of quality and style it really is second to none," he said. "It is a fine piece of engineering and I really think people will be impressed. The new bodywork should be completed by the middle of March but for Valencia we are looking at rolling out the new chassis and some engine upgrades. If that proves impossible then we will be there with the development bike but we are hopeful."

The Valencia test will also see Proton continue their embryonic relationship with Dunlop tyres, although Aksland maintains that no deal has been struck with the British rubber manufacturer as talks continue with Michelin. "There is no decision on tyres just yet," he said. "We will test with Dunlop again at Valencia as we did before Christmas but discussions are ongoing and we should have a decision made by mid-March."

MotoGP, 2003

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