Brits look forward to Estoril GP
This weekend, September 7-8, sees the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril, the scene of pre-season testing for most teams earlier in the year. And for most of the Brits taking part, it’s coming on the back of rapid improvement.
Ulsterman Jeremy McWilliams battled his Proton KR3 to a solid seventh at the last round in Brno at the Czech GP, equalling his performance at the Sachsenring in July for season-best result. His race time would have landed him second place in 2001, just 0.2 seconds behind Valentino Rossi.
This performance has boosted his confidence and McWilliams says he can’t wait for race day: " We learned a lot at Estoril during the winter testing and it is a favourite track of mine. The bike and Bridgestone tyres have progressed a great deal since then and I feel I’m riding as well as I ever have at the moment.
" All in all, I'm really looking forward to the weekend and the long straight should not be too big a problem because you come onto it out of a long corner.
" The KR3 is faster on corner speed than the V4 two-strokes and new 990cc four-strokes, so we can be sure of good entry speed, and it's downhill. "
Jay Vincent is another Brit on a high after Brno where he equalled his best result of 2002 with a gritty 12th in the 250 class.
He said: " I was very happy with our performance in Brno and at last everything seemed to fall into place. It was our best weekend of the season and it's given us confidence for the rest of the season.
" I hope to put together a string of results in those last six races starting on Sunday.
" We had a good winter test in Estoril and I like the track. We've had a break in Spain on the way down to Estoril and we are all looking forward to the race. "
His Cibertel Honda teammate Leon Haslam didn’t enjoy such good fortune, getting punted into the gravel on the first lap in the Czech Republic.
Haslam said: " It was a nightmare in Brno after some decent practice times and it can only get better on Sunday. We are getting the basic settings of the bike right although we are still down on top speed.
" We had a half-decent test at Estoril in the winter and the bike is certainly better now than it was then. I've never had much luck there but we will plug away in those remaining races. "
Chaz Davies has enjoyed a fairly torrid time in the 125 class in his GP debut year and a high-speed crash at Brno left the 15-year-old battered and bruised when the clip-on of his Matteoni Aprilia snapped during practice.
He said: " I'm still stiff and sore from the crash and I've not been able to train. However, I'll be fit to ride and I just hope we can eliminate the chattering problem I've been experiencing since the British Grand Prix at Donington.
" It was a bit of a nightmare at Brno although I did get my first ride in a helicopter! I just want to score some Championship points on Sunday to set me up for those remaining races. "