Reigning European 250 champion David Garcia joined Proton Team KR this year, as tester and back-up rider. The 23-year-old Spaniard from Almeria will not only test the continual stream of developments from the team's engineering base in England, but hopes also to race as a wild card entry at some GPs.
David will also run a full Spanish 600 Supersport championship campaign - a class where technical regulations have been liberated this year in line with the new four-stroke MotoGP class. The production-based bikes will be allowed to race on full slick racing tyres, with race-spec brakes and suspension.
Garcia has a unique asset - his father developed and owns the Almeria racetrack in Andalucia, so that he has private test facilities available on his own doorstep seven days a week.
You are lucky to have a family motor sport background. How much difference does it make?
My father was always involved - in karting and in rallying. When I was growing up, he owned a go-kart track, and I played on it a lot. My first race was when I was 10 - I took the place of another boy, and won first time. I had a lot of success in karts, but the first time I tried riding a motorcycle round the kart track, I had a big crash - but I was hooked. From then on, motorcycles came first.
Did your family support your motorcycle racing.
Yes - but my studying had to come first. I was racing just as a hobby, on 80cc clutchless bikes. But whether I could race depended on my results at school. No results, no racing that weekend. Later when I got more serious about racing, I agreed with my father to try also to continue studying. I started at university, but I didn't finish the first year. I was only thinking about motorcycles and racing, and I realised to be successful in racing, you have to give it 100 percent of your attention.
What was the path of your career?
I always had support from BP, when I was karting and also on motorcycles, and they continued as my sponsor in the 80cc championship, although I was still racing as a hobby. In 1996 I started to compete seriously in championships, and I won the Spanish championship on the 125cc GP class.
Then came a difficult year, in 1997. I was very fast, but also very dangerous. I was racing 125s in Spanish and European championships. Six times I was leading the race and crashed out on the last lap!
In 1998 I moved to the 250 class for the first time, and had a good season. I finished third in the Spanish championship, behind Luis d'Antin and Jose Cardoso, both of them Grand Prix riders. So I was the first national rider in the championship.
After that year, d'Antin had the Antena 3 Yamaha GP team, and he hired me and Fonzi Nieto as riders. Most of the time I was ahead of Fonzi, but the bike that year was very uncompetitive, and we didn't get any good results.
You didn't stay with the team in 2000. What happened?