James Haydon, making his MotoGP debut with Proton KR at Qatar, only sat on the team's KR V5 for the first time today - but the Brit performed admirably to qualify directly behind team regular Nobuatsu Aoki, as he learnt bike, team and track.

"The Proton KR V5 is a lovely piece of kit, and the fastest bike I have ever ridden. I was impressed when they started the engine, and I thought: That thing sounds a bit evil!" smiled James, who rode a 500cc GP bike eight-years ago and more recently competed in WSBK and BSB.

"I'm in at the deep end, and it's difficult because of the lack of grip," he confessed. "These are very strange conditions. But it has such a linear power delivery I was surprised at how easy it is to ride, though it gets a bit harder when you try and get the last bits out of it. I'm struggling with the front end grip, which is very limited. Every time I tried to push I would nearly lose the front.

"But these are such great guys and such a professional team. We'll sit down now and go through everything, and change both bikes tomorrow to get the front working better for me. It was easy to make mistakes today, but for my first day I went carefully to build up some experience," concluded Haydon, a provisional 21st out of the 23 premier-class competitors and within 0.68secs of Aoki.

"James is doing just what we wanted of him, making progress all the time. Every time he goes out he does a better lap time," praised team manager Chuck Aksland.

Haydon is taking the place of injured team regular Kurtis Roberts, who is expected to be fit to race next weekend at Sepang in the Malaysian GP.

 

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