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Proton join the 200mph club

Proton join the 200mph club

Proton join the 200mph club

Proton Team KR gave their new V5 prototype its official bow at Catalunya this weekend and celebrated by breaking the 200mph mark for the first time. Nobuatsu Aoki, lapping alone in the absence of his injured team-mate Kurtis Roberts, set a top speed of 204.12mph (328.5km/h), which team officials believe is the fastest any Proton has ever gone, on two or four wheels.

"I believe that's the first time any Proton has done more than 200mph," said Team Manager Chuck Aksland. "All in it was a pretty positive end to the test. Nobu went faster than last year, and we still don't have a lot of experience on the Dunlop tyres, or with the new bike. With the little bit of testing we've done, we know where we're at. We need more engine performance, and to establish our relationship with Dunlop. And to keep moving forward."

In what was virtually a shake-down test for the second-generation V5, which features a revised engine and an all-new high-tech chassis and swingarm, and the team still gaining familiarity with their new Dunlop tyres, Team Owner Kenny Roberts believes there are signs of clear progress for the machine and saw the top speed as an endorsement of its ultimate potential.

"We know we need more engine power, and we're working on that, but we also know these are very early days for the new bike, and that everything is getting better all the time," said the three-time former World Champion.

The new Proton is the first to bear the stamp of ex-F1 engineering guru John Barnard, who has used chassis construction techniques culled from aerospace and F1 technology never before seen on a motorcycle, and the changes were also given the stamp of approval by their experienced main rider. "I am happy with the new chassis and swingarm," reflected Aoki, who added that, despite the optimism raised by his top speed, there is a lot of development left in the bike.

"We worked very hard and adjusted many things… it was like a shakedown this weekend," he continued. "Now the bike is getting to the point where we have good base settings and can concentrate on fine running the suspension and so on. The new engine is not working properly yet. The top-end power is the same as last year, but the mid-range is not good at all.

"It makes the engine very peaky. When you touch the throttle at 10,000rpm it hesitates a lot, and is inconsistent. The engine shop has to work to make it easier to ride. It was our first official time on Dunlop tyres, and though the qualifying tyres are very good, there is a lot of work to do. We have to cooperate to improve things, and I hope I have given them a lot of ideas."

MotoGP, 2004

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