Team Proton Getting Fast at Brno

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Proton Team KR rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh was one of the fastest riders onthe track for the first quarter of this afternoon's first qualifyingsession for Sunday's Czech Republic GP.

Using the latest development of the Big Bang engine, with the benefit offour weeks of development work, the Dutchman spent the rest of thesession circulating at a similar speed, testing tire endurance andchassis settings. But when he fitted new tires to try for a final fastlap, he ran into chatter problems instead...

The Big Bang engine was first raced at the last round in Germany - butunfamiliarity with the motor meant that the team ran into performanceproblems, with poor top speed. Over the break, intensive development hasrestored the power and speed, while preserving the other advantages ofthe close firing order - especially better throttle response and riderfeel.

Brno is a favourite circuit for the Dutch rider, who tested thelightweight three-cylinder KR3 machine here for the first time a yearago, and earlier claimed pole position on the MuZ V4.

There is one more day of practice remaining before Sunday's CzechRepublic GP at the sweeping Brno circuit - a fast and technical circuitwhere the handling advantages of the Proton more than compensate for asmall deficit in top speed compared with the heavier V4s.

Jurgen sez:

"It felt pretty good to be fastest for the first 15 minutes. We were upto speed after only four or five laps, and we could easily run in the2:02 bracket, which I think will be the pace of the race. We still have afew problems with the front which we are working on, and I continued withthe same rear tyre until ten minutes from the end. Then I fitted a newrear to go for a faster lap time, but instead we ran into tyre chatterproblems. We can definitely go faster. I am fully confident of that -we're not on the limit yet. The Big Bang is working very well now. Wefound the lost speed that was so frustrating at the Sachsenring, and theengine is a lot nicer for the rider. It has good power and top speed now,and a cleaner pick-up. And it vibrates a lot less, making the bike morecomfortable to ride".

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