Team Proton KR's Jeremy McWilliams came just one place short of taking the team's first ever world championship point with the new V5 four-stroke, yesterday in Rio.

Power increases and chassis improvements have upgraded the overall performance of the newly born four-stroke - and McWilliams finished ahead of the lone factory Suzuki, as well as the only surviving factory Kawasaki, in the 24 lap main event.

However, the Ulsterman is under no illusions as to the task ahead, and the Banbury based outfit have an almost limitless list of 'to-dos' before the machine is competitive.

"I thought for a while we could really do it - but we need to make so many changes before we can really challenge for the points," said McWilliams. "We're nowhere near the mark just yet: Kawasaki and Suzuki aside, were not really in the hunt. Some of the circuits coming up might be a little kinder to our relative lack of power, though.

"We need changes from the handlebar position to the back axle, and they'll come over the longer term," he admitted. "On the positive side, the engine ran pretty good. It maybe slowed a little at the end, but it was good fun for the first half of the race. Over full race distance, you realise how difficult it is to change direction and to put the power down. It really shows up towards the end."

"Two months ago it was hard even to think about scoring points. Now we're knocking on the door," said team manager Chuck Aksland. "But there's a lot of work still needed, and you can't turn things round overnight. Congratulations to Bridgestone, who achieved their first podium. Their tyres worked well for us too, but tyres aren't really our problem at the moment."

Meanwhile, the race brought more heartbreak for team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki, who had started from his best position so far on the new four-stroke, on the fifth row of the grid.

The Japanese rider started well, and stormed up to 13th position on the third lap. Soon afterwards, however, a gremlin got into the fuel pump, and he was soon dropping back, to retire after ten laps.

"I had a good start, and the bike was going really well for the first few laps, so I was enjoying myself. Then it started to get slower and slower, and eventually I pulled into the pits. It was a fuel pump problem. I am very disappointed," said the Japanese.

"Nobu really deserved a lot better," admitted Aksland. "He qualified well, and put in a pretty good first lap. He had a good weekend, and he should have been rewarded with some points. Instead there was a fuel pump problem."

 

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