- 29 jul 2002
Proton KR team principal Kenny Roberts has stated that there is now no hope for the current version of the KR V5 engine, and that only a full redesign in time for next season will solve their powerplant woes.
The American's comments came after Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, in which sole rider Nobuatsu Aoki limped home in 14th after severe heating problems left him with "a roasted left foot, and a deep-fried right foot".
"My right footpeg got so hot that my foot is burned now. I was roasted on the left, and deep-fried in oil on the right," said the Japanese. "It has been such a difficult weekend, for everybody in the team. They worked really hard to get the bike as good as possible for me, so I rode as hard as I could to get the best result. I am glad I could get some points for the team."
The Motegi engine problems proved something of a last straw for the straight-talking Roberts, a former three-times 500cc world champion:
"It's clear now that we can't fix this engine without a redesign, which there is no time to do this season," he declared. "We just have to get through the year as best possible."
One option would be to switch to the recently tested KTM V4 engine, which has performed admirably in its first track outings with the Banbury based team. However, Roberts has dismissed that as impractical.
"There's no chance of switching to the KTM engine we tested after Portugal, because apart from anything there is only a very limited number of those engines in existence, and we would need a winter of testing before racing it," explained Kenny Sr. "Anyway, it would only be a short-term fix."
Aoki was racing alone at Motegi, with team-mate Kurtis Roberts still recuperating from surgery following a fall in the Czech Republic GP four weeks ago.
Roberts erkent dus dat het niks wordt meer met hun eigen blok. Ondanks dat hij zegt dat het geen optie is zeg ik toch: flikker dat blok in zee, beschouw dit jaar als een verloren jaar en ga vast rijden met de het KTM-blok. Op die manier kunnen ze alvast veel know how opdoen over de KTM. Enige probleem zou kunnen zijn (en nu lees ik voor uit andermans werk) is dat de Dunlop banden waar het team mij rijd nog nauwelijks zijn gebruikt door machines van tegen de 230 pk. Zowel de Proton als de WCM (beiden met Dunlop) komen niet over de 200 (aldus Toby Moody op crash.net).