PROTON Motorsports Fan Fare : My Monte Carlo Trip (Part 1)

Hello everyone! Remember our PROTON Motorsports fan who won the Rallye to Monte Carlo online game? The one we all envied for winning himself an all expense paid trip for two to watch the Rally in Monte Carlo. Yes, that’s our lucky guy, Mohd Akram Zaki. If you don’t you can read all about it here and here.

In this two part posting, you’ll be able to read about Zaki’s experience in Monaco with the PROTON Motorsports team, at the world’s oldest rally – the Rallye of Monte Carlo held from 19th to 23rd January, 2011.

Here’s the first installment of Zaki’s story. Enjoy!

My Monte Carlo Trip – by Mohd Akram Zaki

Fr left to right: Chris, Akram, Zaki and PG

10th of January 2011 – I received a call from PROTON’s Digital Marketing division, telling me that I won the Rallye to Monte-Carlo competition! I was in utter shock and had to calm myself down. From that moment on, my friends kept saying that my face was a reflection of excitement and happiness. It was indeed! I couldn’t sleep for an entire week just thinking about the rally that I was about to witness very soon. And in Monte Carlo! I was going to Monte Carlo!!

It all truly sunk in when I went to the PROTON Centre of Excellence for  a briefing before the trip.I met the PROTON Motorsports team and after a short briefing headed home full of anticipation of the coming week.

17th January 2011 – The day was finally here. I headed to KLIA with my friend,  Nik Mohd Azhar whom I chose to accompany me to Monaco. The whole flight took about 18 hours including a 4 hour transit in Dubai. We arrived at Cote D’azure airport in Nice, France at 1pm. We joined the group; that now included  members of the media as well. We met our drivers for the whole week, Ryan, Nick and Justin. Off we headed to our hotel in Valence, located about 400km from Nice. It took about 4 hours to get there. After dinner, we headed to our rooms to retire for the night and get some much needed rest.

18th January 2011 – We were taken to  a go-kart track somewhere between the town of Valence and our hotel to watch the rally cars at shakedown. I had no idea of the next surprise that was in store for Nik and me. The entire PROTON rally team were there when we arrived. I met Chris Mellors, team principal. He works together with Zuber Ismail, who manages the  teams affairs. I also met Chris Atkinson and Per-Gunnar Anderson, both of them well respected rally drivers, with Chris who used to drive for Subaru and PG winning JWRC titles previously. As I was taking pictures with them and the cars, one of the mechanics told me to get inside the car as I would soon be taken on  a taxi ride with PG behind the wheels. I was overjoyed with excitement and grateful at the same time as my wish had finally come true: to experience being in  the PROTON rally car. I had been wishing for it since the day found out I had won the competition.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Inside a fully prepared rally car, complete with roll cage etc, with one of the best rally drivers in the world. I just sat in the co-driver seat and took in all the sensations that I was experiencing. The acceleration, the cornering force, the sound of the car, the blurry vision, everything that I could absorb.. PG is a wonderful driver. He can drive the car at an incredible speed on a small track. The Neo performed amazingly and I loved it. I will remember this experience  for the rest of my life! Nik’s turn came next and I was positive he felt the same as I did. After the session the team headed back to the service park and we participated in a few rounds of kart racing. It was certainly a fun and enjoyable experience, driving in the cold winter even though my joints ached a little afterwards, but it was worth it!

Then we went to the service park where we joined the rest of the team at the team camp and I was greeted with the sight of the cars being maintained and it was interesting to see the team mechanics at their job checking to see if there were any defects on the car. I tried my best not to bother them but at the same time tried to get as close as possible to observe what they were doing. After lunch I explored the service park and got to see all the teams preparing their cars for the rally. It was very delightful to see lots of rally fans coming to see their favourite cars and teams. THe fans really took interest in our PROTON car as we are the only team using the bright yellow PROTON Satria Neo. Without a doubt the Neo was the most beautiful car there. I helped the team give out freebies to the visitors and introduce them to PROTON.

We stayed on till late evening to attend the official IRC drivers introduction event and applause our drivers and the team. Then we headed back to our hotel in the outskirts of Valence to have dinner and call it a day….we were so excited that day 1 of the rally would begin tomorrow….

Stay tuned for more of Zaki’s adventures in Monte Carlo…when Part 2 of his story is published next week.

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About Proton Motorsports

PROTON Motorsports is dedicated to bring together motorsports enthusiasts to experience PROTON's journey around the toughest motorsports events around the world.

Posted on February 23, 2011, in Contest, Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice story. It’s always great when you get an opportunity to get close to action and meet the people who actually work in motorsport. It’s a new and exciting world. Looking forward to the next blog.

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