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Suspect fuel problem halts Proton's British GP ‘test'

Suspect fuel problem halts Proton's British GP ‘test'

Suspect fuel problem halts Proton's British GP ‘test'

Nobuatsu Aoki overcame handling difficulties to claim another finish at the British GP, the home race for the Banbury-based team, bringing the 990cc Proton KR V5 home in 18th place, although team-mate Kurtis Roberts didn't make the chequered flag.

After 11 of the 30 laps of the 4.023km Donington Park circuit outside Derby, while he was circulating one place ahead of Aoki, his engine suffered a mystery ailment and stopped out on the track. After the race the bike started again without trouble and the team were investigating the reason for what showed on the data as an apparently temporary fuel pressure failure.

The race had been an important test session for the team, working to regain momentum lost this year when the Mk2 version of the England-made V5 engine failed to produce the predicted power. At this race, team principal Kenny Roberts decreed that they would move from racing mode to testing mode, running through a variety of different specifications for the 990cc motor.

"It was a pretty hard race because the problem of skidding sideways into all the corners that I had in first practice came back again," said Aoki. "Right from the first lap. We had improved it with set-up changes but it came back again. In the middle stage of the race, from laps 10 to 20, the tyre grip was pretty consistent, so I could push hard. In the later stages the skidding was too bad. It was hard to manage my lap time, and I just tried to make it to the finish."

The three weekend break before the next round at Brno in the Czech Republic will give precious time for the engineers to take the benefit of the lessons of their home GP and to move the project forward again. Aoki has been only able to score points in three races this season so far while Roberts has marked a very difficult debut campaign with injury problems and solitary point at Le Mans.


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