Proton Team KR has suffered a blow to their 2004 championship preparations with the news that tyre supplier Bridgestone are withdrawing support for the independent British based team.
Bridgestone are said to have made the decision due to increased demand for their tyres in 2004. That demand is the result of the Japanese manufacturer's impressive progress this season, the highlight of which was two (on-track) podiums with Pramac Honda's Makoto Tamada at Rio and Motegi.

Both Suzuki (Michelin) and Kawasaki (Dunlop) are believed to be currently in talks with Bridgestone about joining Pramac in running their rubber next year.

Meanwhile, Kenny Roberts' team are now expected to use Dunlop's on their fast developing V5, and could benefit from increased commitment from the British based tyre manufacturer after they were forced out of World Superbikes by the new Pirelli only rule. However, Team KR linking up with class leader's Michelin is also not out of the question.

Team KR's tyre change could also affect their rider line-up since present pilot Nobuatsu Aoki was Bridgestone's test and development rider in 2001 before returning to race action with Proton in 2002. His position will now have been weakened.

Neither Aoki nor team-mate Jeremy McWilliams have been confirmed with the team for next season and Kenny's son Kurtis is thought to be in with a chance of a race seat. McWilliams has also been linked with former employers Aprilia, along with Olivier Jacque.



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