Team Proton KR rider Jeremy McWilliams emerged with nothing worse than a bruised hand after crashing out of the final qualifying session before he had been able to improve on his eighth-fastest time of yesterday.

As such, he was powerless to prevent a loss of grid position as other riders improved, and will start tomorrow's Portuguese GP from the fourth row of the grid in sixteenth.

Earlier in the session, McWilliams had been back on the V5 four-stroke, and came within less than half a second of the time he set yesterday on the nimble two-stroke - although it should be remembered that all bar McWilliams improved significantly today as the track gave up more grip, so the real performance difference is likely to be higher.

"It's not a good idea, jumping from one type of bike onto the other," said McWilliams of his fall. "The four-stroke was going well, but it had a problem with a sprocket carrier, and I had to pull in. I only had the one four-stroke for the session, but I had been planning a late run on the two-stroke, to try to get a better qualifying position, although I'd already almost matched yesterday's time on the four-stroke. But then I crashed. It's too easy to think you can do it."

Team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki, who has been on the four-stroke KR V5 all weekend, did cut his time by close to a full second - but he also lost position, finished behind even David de Gea's WCM, and was battling familiar problems with corner entry on the four-stroke.

"Not so good today," Aoki admitted. "Things were going pretty well in the morning, but in the afternoon we were really struggling to find grip, especially at the rear. I'm not sure what changed. I was also struggling with the back wheel hopping into the corners. It's very hard to say why - maybe it's because we keep going faster!"

Although last year's two-stroke has already demonstrated how capable it can be at this technical circuit with many slow corners, both riders will race the new 990cc four-stroke tomorrow.

Development of the new machine is still considered more important than possibly getting a better race result on the old 500cc two-stroke.

"We will definitely race the four-strokes tomorrow, and we learned quite a lot today with the new chassis, and two more latest-spec engines arriving last night," confirmed team manger Chuck Aksland. "As always seems to happen, Jeremy had the better engine in the second-best chassis, and after the morning session there was only time to prepare one four-stroke after swapping the engine over. That's why he had only one bike.

"But he came close to the two-stroke's time before the bike stopped, and he probably could have gone faster again with it. It's been a very encouraging day, and we're definitely going in the right direction. All our guys have been working flat out for months now, and they deserve a lot of credit," concluded the American.

 

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