Oct 18, 2001
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From a press release:<BR><BR>SHAH ALAM TESTS KICK-START KURTIS'S PROTON DEBUT <BR> <BR>Thursday, October 18 - Sepang, Malaysia: Five hours of pre-race testing at the Shah Alam circuit, former venue for the Malaysian GP, gave one-race Proton rider Kurtis Roberts a first taste of a 500cc GP machine. The word from the son of legendary Proton Team KR owner Kenny Roberts is that he enjoyed it. <BR><BR>Kurtis joins regular rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh for a one-race wild card outing at the Malaysian GP on Sunday - home race for the Malaysian-backed Proton KR3. It will be the 22-year-old US-based rider's first outing on a 500-class two-stroke, although he has raced a GP 250 in the past. <BR><BR>The machine is built by his father's company, based in England, and Kurtis's first ride comes after the lightweight three-cylinder machine's best-ever season, with Dutchman van den Goorbergh scoring regular top ten finishes, and putting the compact orange-and-black machine in the thick of the four-cylinder factory rivals. <BR><BR>The Malaysian GP, 15th of 16 scheduled rounds on the World Championship calendar, is the third of three gruelling flyaway rounds on consecutive weekends. Last week, the GP circus raced in Australia, and the week before that in Japan. <BR><BR>One weekend off precedes the final round in Brazil, on November 4. <BR> <BR><BR>JURGEN VAN DEN GOORBERGH <BR><BR>"We tested here before the season, and though the bike has changed now, with the Big Bang engine and some chassis changes, we still have some good basic information. I'm feeling confident after a good race in Australia, where I was able to stay with the leading group until I had a little problem and lost touch. This track is mainly fast, flowing corners, where the KR3 is really competitive. I'm a little worried about the two straights, where you go from first or second gear up to sixth, so that it's just down to horsepower. We'll have to make up time on the rest of the track. Having two riders could be an advantage too". <BR> <BR><BR>KURTIS ROBERTS <BR><BR>"My father's been talking to me over the past couple of days about the bike - and he scared the life out of me. It was a pleasant surprise when I rode it this morning. It's just not as brutal as I expected. It's a lot smaller and lighter than the Formula X-treme bikes I've been racing in the US. We just did basic stuff - footrest and handlebar position and stuff. My goal this weekend is just to have some fun, and hopefully finish in the points. I'm prone to putting too much pressure on myself, and I want to avoid doing that this weekend". <BR> <BR><BR>CHUCK AKSLAND - Team Manager <BR><BR>"It was wet for much of the five hours we had at Shah Alam today, but Kurtis managed to get a feeling for the bike. Jurgen will have his two usual bikes; Kurtis has a third, which is our test bike we use at the factory. That means it has all the latest spec stuff. This is kind of a medium track for us - not our best, and not our worst. There are a lot of fast, flowing corners, like the Australian track, where Jurgen went really well. The race will depend a lot on the heat and the levels of grip. We tested here before, and I hope we can find a good direction on tyre choice and so on". <BR><BR>Footnote: The Proton Team KR machine will run for the first time in Malaysia wearing Petronas stickers. "We welcome Petronas as the team's new official lubricant supplier," said Chuck Aksland. <BR> <BR><BR>