Proton Team KR riders Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki overcame various problems with the still-developing V5 racer to finish in 17th and 18th places respectively in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, home race for the team's sponsors.

McWilliams started strongly in 16th position, challenging for the top 15 and more points for the radical racer. However he ran into gearshifting and tyre problems that meant all his concentration was required just to maintain progress.

"I think we made that race more difficult for ourselves than it needed to be," confessed the Ulsterman. "My quick-shifter mechanism failed on the second lap. But for that, I'm confident I could have got a couple of points. It's almost impossible to shift gears with this bike without the quickshifter, there is so much spinning mass to slow down that it makes it very difficult.

"I was losing a second on every straight, missing gears and getting neutrals. It was very frustrating. The rear tyre also lost grip - it was spinning the rear 50 km/h faster than the front," he revealed. "We chose too soft a compound."

Aoki had similar problems, for different technical reasons. He dropped to 19th in the early part of the race, but was able to regain one place to finish just half-a-second behind McWilliams.

"I had a gearshifting problem and maybe gearbox or clutch, I don't know," said the Japanese. "Anyway, it was really hard to make downshifts - where I was going down the gearbox to second I would end up in third. It meant I really had to pay a lot of attention to gearshifting. That was all through the race. The Bridgestones also seemed to lack some side grip, and I was going sideways everywhere. I was struggling with those things. It meant I couldn't race and just ride the bike."

"We're another 100 metres down the road. These three (flyaway) races are useless for us," claimed team owner Kenny Roberts. "We're developing the bikes, but there's no time to do anything. Even if we can make new parts, it's hard to get them to the track.

"We had new exhaust pipes here, but the brackets had a design fault and they broke, so we couldn't use them for the race," said the American with typical honesty. "We're not racing. We're testing, so just finishing is a big plus."

Next weekend, the Australian GP ends a gruelling trio of back-to-back races. Last year, the Proton pair qualified on the front row of the grid with McWilliams on pole
position - a repeat would be nothing short of miraculous.