Jeremy McWilliams was an excellent second-fastest two-stroke in today's first qualifying session for the Pacific GP, putting him ninth on the provisional grid despite suffering from a fractured collar-bone, sustained two weeks ago at the Rio GP.

His good position has allayed the team's fears that the stop-and-go nature of the Motegi circuit would count heavily against the KR3 lightweight triple, which trades power and acceleration for cornering performance.

Top speed figures from the first session confirm the situation: McWilliams recorded 266.8 km/h against the 285.2km/h of provisional pole qualifier Daijiro Kato's Honda. But the Proton takes it back with its good braking performance compared with the heavier and clumsier four-strokes, said McWilliams.

"I feel pretty second-hand now, but on the bike, though my shoulder feels awkward, it's not slowing me down," revealed the Ulsterman. "I didn't take anything for the pain today, but I'll have to do that tomorrow. As to the bike, Ohlins did something to the front forks at Rio, which is why we went so well there. It's helped here. The brakes are perfect, and what I lose on the straight I'm taking back under braking. I can brake so late I feel every time I'm not going to make the corner ... then you get there, flick it in, and it's okay."

McWilliams then revealed that he believes his spare bike could be even quicker, and he's confident for the race. "I think we have an even better setting on my spare bike, which I haven't ridden today, so maybe there's more to come," he said. "It's looking good for the race, and I'm not expecting any problems with our tyres. I hope the others run out of grip."

Team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki was searching for the right settings to give him the confidence he needs to exploit the machine's strengths, but 15th place was worse than he deserved, after he ran out of time to put in a single fast lap on qualifying tyres.

"I'm lacking confidence in the front fork set-up," said Aoki. "We've made some changes, like heavier springs and different settings, and they helped a bit. But it's still not good enough to give me the feeling I want, and the front-end feeling is very important here."

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