The Proton Team’s new KR V5 MotoGP bike for the 2003 championship will not be ready for this weekend’s season opener at Suzuka, but South Africans may see it in Welkom later this month.

The Proton Team’s new KR V5 MotoGP bike for the 2003 championship will not be ready for this weekend’s season opener at Suzuka, but South Africans may see it in Welkom later this month.

Team manager and former champion Kenny Roberts and rider Jeremy McWilliams launched the 990cc four-stroke challenger in London last week.

"It's difficult to set a schedule. We hope to have it ready for the second GP, in South Africa, but it may be we'll continue to race the two-stroke for a little longer," Roberts said. "We won't put the new bike on the track until it is ready, and safe enough.

"We are currently testing the engine, and getting it ready to race," Roberts added. "We've had it up to 14 000 r/min, and we are fixing problems on a day-to-day basis. But it's not ready to race yet."

The Proton KR was designed at Roberts' Banbury headquarters in Oxfordshire with the help of former Ferrari designer John Barnard.

Barnard joined the Proton KR MotoGP team as technical director in February. He designed grand prix cars for McLaren and Ferrari and also worked for Benetton, Arrows and Prost.

“I am confident we will be competitive by the end of this season and looking for race wins next year,” said Roberts. “This bike is 97 per cent made in Britain. It is the perfect country to do this because of your cottage industry in making racing components."

McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki will be riding the team’s V5 four-stroke bike this season.

Original article from Car