Having been on pole position one year ago with their 500cc two-stroke, Proton Team KR had been debating whether to even bring their brand new V5 to Australia - but today Island favourite Jeremy McWilliams defied expectation to beat his own 2002 pole lap, claiming a best ever tenth on tomorrow's grid for the nine race old four-stroke.

McWilliams has been strong all weekend, at a track where engine performance is less important than handling and high corner speed. The Ulsterman's top speed was 305.9km/h - 24km/h slower than the fastest recorded by Loris Capirossi's Ducati - but his overall lap time was less than a second slower. That's how impressive he was.

"I'm really happy. We don't really deserve to be where we are. I can't imagine how much easier it would be riding a machine with 40 more horsepower than we have," said the former 250cc GP winner. "We're doing the best we can with what we've got, and this position probably surprised all of us... me included.

"My fast lap was a bit risky, but thankfully it all stayed together. I can definitely race with them, though we have a worry over rear tyre duration, and I'm not sure we can overcome that overnight. But I'm getting points tomorrow, no matter how I have to do it," said the ever determined McWilliams.

"Jeremy really worked for that. That's why he fits so well in this team, where everybody works hard," added team manager Chuck Aksland. "Our two-stroke set the fastest ever two-stroke lap round this track, and this is the first time the four-stroke has been quicker than the two-stroke.

"We weren't optimistic about these three flyaways, and even wondered whether to bring the two-strokes - but our new engine has run well and consistently for all three weekends, the package is working, and we've improved every weekend," he concluded.

Meanwhile, team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki was playing catch-up after missing yesterday afternoon's timed session. He had fallen in the morning, and doctors insisted on precautionary X-rays to a painful neck.

However, equipment at the track was not up to the job, and Aoki was obliged to endure a long road trip to Dandenong hospital, and lengthy waiting time there, missing out on a full hour in which to gain track knowledge and work on tyre choice and machine set-up.

"I had painkillers and treatment from Dean Miller, so pain from my neck was not really a problem," said 20th fastest Aoki. "I am a full hour behind in testing, and also I had gearbox problems all session. I was getting a lot of neutrals when I was trying to shift up, from first to second and from second to third. It happened twice even on my best lap, otherwise I could have been at least half a second quicker. We still have a lot of things to do before the race tomorrow."

"Nobu also did well. He missed a session yesterday, and he's still not in perfect condition, but he's only two-and-a-bit seconds off pole. It's more than we expected of both," stated Aksland.