It looks like the Proton MotoGP team may get a reprieve from running at the back of the grid in 2005 with the shake-down test of its new V4 engine at Jerez last week showing a lot of promise.
The team has taken its new engine from the doomed KTM MotoGP project, fitting it in to a modified version of the chassis that used to hold the Proton developed V5. And the improvement was immediately obvious, with Jeremy McWilliams setting lap times just two tenths of a second off the lap record.
Former Proton rider McWilliams was on loan to the team from Aprilia specifically to test the new engine and he came away amazed at the difference to his 2003 KR5.
“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.
“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 reving. Our top speed at these tests was only four or five kph slower than the Hondas!”
McWilliams put in a best lap of the Spanish circuit at 1:43.00. The lap record, set by Valentino Rossi in 2003 on a Honda RCV, stands at 1:42.788.
“There was definitely more to come,” continued McWilliams. “With another day or two, it could easily run in the low 1:42s.”