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McWilliams impressed by KTM power

McWilliams impressed by KTM power

McWilliams impressed by KTM power

Former Proton Team KR rider Jeremy McWilliams joined his old racing partners for special tests of the Proton KR prototype machine, powered by the KTM engine, at Jerez last week and in two days was circulating within sight of the Spanish circuit's MotoGP lap record.

On what was only the bike's fourth full day at a racetrack McWilliams recorded a best time of 1'43.00. The lap record, set by Rossi's Honda in 2003, stands at 1'42.788 and the experienced British rider was confident he could have dipped underneath it with more time on the bike.

"There was definitely more to come," said McWilliams,. "With another day or two, it could easily run in the low 1'42s."

The Jerez session was only the second time the V4 KTM engine has been tested at a circuit – on both occasions in a Proton KR V5 chassis specially modified for the Austrian engine. The first tests were at Estoril in September, with promising results for Nobuatsu Aoki, and the second phase of development has confirmed that early potential.

With McWilliams in the saddle, the prototype was not only impressively fast and full of further promise, it also proved easy to ride, with plentiful power served out in a manageable way and was 1.5 seconds faster than the Proton KR V5's qualifying time at the same circuit earlier this year.

"I was really impressed," said McWilliams. "I didn't expect it to perform anything like it did. There's plenty of potential, but it's already really easy to ride. It's deceptive, because you don't realise how fast you're going. The handling is great, and the engine response is smooth and predictable."

During his tests, McWilliams worked on improving the fuelling, and control of engine braking – but the level of the machine was already much higher than he had imagined.

"There's nothing about this bike I can compare to the Proton KR V5 I rode in 2003. It's so much better in every way. The chassis works really well, and the motor has good power all the way through the range. And it's willing to keep revving. Our top speed at these tests was only four or five km/h slower than the Hondas!"

Team manager Chuck Aksland was delighted with the rider's confirmation of their own impressions. "It's the first time ever that the rider hasn't asked for more power," he said. "There was an upgraded-spec engine on hand, but Jeremy didn't want to try it. What he had was working so well."

Aksland thanked Aprilia, who had loaned them McWilliams for the test. On the third day, Spanish racer Gregorio Lavilla continued testing, recording a valuable mass of data; and on the fourth 2004 team rookie Kurtis Roberts ran a few shake-down laps, "just to get the feel of the thing."

"The lap times were only part of a generally very positive test," continued Aksland. "Thanks to the help of Michelin, we were able to try out a potential combination – our chassis, the KTM engine, and their tyres – and to prove to ourselves that it offers a serious chance of being competitive.

"We've spent eight years working up to this point – gaining knowledge and experience, often the hard way. Technically, this is the best package we've ever had."

MotoGP, 2004

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