PROTON CELEBRATES THREE PODIUM FINISHES IN RALLY HOKKAIDO
PROTON emerged a dominant force in Rally Hokkaido with three cars finishing on the podium in round five of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
In the main event, Alister McRae turned around his misfortunes on day 1 to finish third in the Satria Neo S2000. Beginning the second leg of the rally 31.4 seconds adrift of second placeman Katsuhiko Taguchi in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, McRae won two of the morning’s four special stages to close the gap to within 18.5 seconds with Indian driver in another Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X in the lead.
McRae kept the pressure on the two front running Mitsubishis but in the end had to contend with third place despite closing the gap to within 8.8 seconds and being the fastest driver on Leg 2 of the rally.
The results in Japan will set the stage for a three-way battle for this year’s APRC crown with Alister McRae leading PROTON team mate Atkinson followed by Indian driver Gaurav Gill in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The next and final round of the APRC will be held in Longyou, China in November.
“We had a good run in Japan considering that the terrain and stages suited the turbocharged 4 wheel drive cars better. The results might have been a lot different had it not been for McRae’s puncture and Atkinson’s retirement on the first day but that’s the nature of rallying. Having said that the Satria Neo S2000 performed well against the more powerful turbocharged cars and the results are testimony to the level of progress we have made in terms of development of the car. PROTON is committed to be better and we have demonstrated just that this season by winning three of the five rallies so far. One more round will determine the APRC championship and rest assured that we will be fighting hard to end the season on a high note,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of PROTON Motorsports.
An equally much celebrated result for PROTON in Rally Hokkaido was also the dominant drive demonstrated by its two Group N 1600 Satria Neos. PROTON clinched two more podium finishes with Malaysian Karamjit Singh and Japanese team mate Akira Bamba finishing first and second respectively in the APRC 1600cc Two Wheel Drive category. Bamba also secured the inaugural FIA APRC Junior Championship title with the Cusco prepared Proton Satria Neo Group N rally car. Another Malaysian driver Gunaseelan Rajoo meanwhile, clinched the Class “A” title in the APRC 1600cc Two Wheel Drive category.