Roberts predicts tough ride for Proton Donington will be a 'disaster' for Proton

Kenny Roberts forecast yesterday that today's opening qualifying sessions for the British Grand Prix at Donington Park on Sunday will be "a disaster'' for his British-built Proton KR machines.

Kenny Roberts forecast yesterday that today's opening qualifying sessions for the British Grand Prix at Donington Park on Sunday will be "a disaster'' for his British-built Proton KR machines.

Engineers at the team-owner's factory in Banbury, Oxfordshire, were yesterday racing to complete four different engine designs for the two one-hour sessions at the Leicestershire circuit. But Roberts conceded: "Frankly, we're done this year. We know we're not going to fix our problems this weekend.''

The 100,000 fans expected at Sunday's Grand Prix will no doubt cheer for Roberts' underdog squad but his admission may signal the end of a magnificent dream: to design a world championship-winning motorcycle using an engine created in the heart of Britain's Formula One belt. "We're down on power and the bike is hard to ride,'' Roberts said. "When the riders open the throttle the bike should go, but it doesn't.''

His V5 engine is similar in layout to Honda's RC211V machine, which has dominated Moto GP since the sport was opened up to 990cc four strokes in 2002. But riders Kurtis Roberts - Kenny's 25-year-old son - and Japan's Nobuatsu Aoki have scored only seven points between them in eight races this year.

Roberts, who won three 500cc world championships as a rider, is backed by the Malaysian car-maker Proton and has recruited many Formula One technicians. But the 50-strong team has struggled to keep up with the Japanese giants Honda and Yamaha, who are driving development in Moto GP at a furious pace as they battle for the world title. "We can't compete with them with the budget that we have,'' Roberts said.

But the crisis is unlikely to mean the end for Roberts' team. Since 1997 he has amassed a vast store of knowledge as a maverick manufacturer of beautifully crafted racing motorcycles.

He will probably instead seek to work with an engine manufacturer with greater resources. His name has been linked with the Austrian company KTM, which has already built a V4 suitable for Moto GP competition, and the legendary Italian bike maker MV Agusta, which won 274 Grand Prix races between 1952-76, and even BMW.

Roberts said. "I can't tell you yet what we will be doing in 2005, but I will never lease bikes from a Japanese factory.''

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi will renew his battle with Honda's Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi in today's provisional qualifying sessions.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence