2004 will see Jeremy McWilliams return to Aprilia, after two-years at Proton Team KR, to ride the Noale based company's fearsome RS Cube - a machine that has already left the Ulsterman with two broken ribs.

Last week, McWilliams joined fellow British GP riders Shane Byrne, Neil Hodgson and Chaz Davies at a special London launch for the upcoming MotoGP season.

During the event, held at Tottenham Court Road's Dominion Theatre and attended by Crash.net, McWilliams answered questions about his tough time in testing the new machine, how he's dealt with the massive amount of horsepower available from the three-cylinder and why he blames himself for breaking his ribs...

Q: You've had quite tough time during testing, but you've been through all this before haven't you?

Jeremy McWilliams: I think if Neil's been having a tough time I've been having a disaster! It sort of changed round for me at Mugello, I came away from Mugello at the end of last week a lot happier. It was the first time that I felt I was riding the bike, up to that point I wasn't riding I was just taking part.

I was turning up and trying to test a bike I wasn't able to understand. You don't really feel like riding at 100% until you feel comfortable and I'm just starting to feel comfortable now. Unfortunately the season's not too far away - two more tests would have been ideal, but that's the reality.

It's been one of the most difficult starts to the season I've had, but things are looking much better and fingers crossed things are going to work out in South Africa.

Q: The Aprilia seems very quick, but perhaps not the easiest bike to ride?

Jeremy McWilliams: Its got lots and lots of horsepower, I think nearly all the MotoGP bikes are of a similar sort of horsepower. Maybe it's creeping up to a level where it's too much - you certainly feel that when you get on the Aprilia. You don't feel you can use all that horsepower immediately, and subsequently you get the engineers to take the horsepower away a bit in first, second and third gear.

It spins up in all the places you don't expect it too and makes for good TV, I'm sure, but heart-stopping moments when you're trying to ride it. But when we get it all together - and I understand it better - plus the new parts coming that will help with that, then we can make it competitive.

Q: You broke two ribs in testing - are the injuries gone now?

Jeremy McWilliams: That was just me being stupid and asking for all the horsepower that they had in first and second gear. You believe you can ride round these things sometimes and I wasn't able to do that, it just flicked me off and caught me out.

It was as bad an injury as I've ever had - it took me forever to get over, maybe because I'm forty now - it took at least three of four weeks and that wasn't pleasant. Trying to ride the bike in Australia after breaking them wasn't the best idea I've ever had.



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