Category Archives: APRC

TWO TOP FIVE OVERALL FINISHES FOR PROTON AND 2WD CLASS WIN IN RALLY OF QUEENSLAND

Queensland, 27 May 2012 – PROTON rallied to two top five finishes in the overall classifications and a clinched victory in the two-wheel drive category at the 2012 International Rally of Queensland.

Defending Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) champion Alister McRae finished second in the two-day rally with team mate PG Andersson coming in fourth, while in the 2WD class, PROTON’s Akira Bamba drove to a well and hard-earned victory. Skoda’s Chris Atkinson won the rally while in third place was veteran driver Brian Green.

With eight special stages being run on the final day, McRae drove the Satria Neo S2000 to a textbook finish in pursuit of Atkinson. The highest gainer of the day however, was Andersson who punched his way up to fourth place from ninth at the end of the opening day.

“Despite being faced with a difficult start to the rally, both McRae and Andersson drove to a commendable finish to secure valuable championship points. We are still in it (the fight for the APRC championship),” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

Akira Bamba-2nd place in 2WD category

PROTON meanwhile, continued to stretch its dominance in the 2WD category, with reigning APRC Junior champion Bamba taking top honors in the 1600cc Satria Neo ahead of another Proton privateer Sanjay Takle. The Junior category was won by local driver Mike Young, also in a Proton Satria Neo, who finished ahead of Bamba.

“All in all, PROTON can be proud of its achievement in Queensland, returning to the event for a second year running to improve its performance from a fourth position last year to clinch a podium finish this time round. And this underlines our commitment to be better,” said PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports John D. Chacko.

Rally Queensland was contested over a total distance of 863km.

Alister’s action in Satria Neo on Rally Queensland secured 2nd place

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PROTON MISSES OUT ON PODIUM IN NEW CALEDONIA BUT ENJOYS CONSOLATION FINISH

PROTON concluded a challenging round 2 in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with a series of misfortunes denying the team of a strong podium finish.

Despite starting Rally New Caledonia strongly, PROTON was not only forced to concede the lead going into the second day but also suffered one early retirement.

Defending APRC champion Alister McRae retired in the second special stage but continued on the final day under Super Rally format, winning three of the day’s six special stages to secure 7 valuable championship points.

McRae finished day 3 ahead of Skoda’s Gaurav Gill and Chris Atkinson but was not eligible for a podium finish. Guarav Gill won the rally ahead of team mate Chris Atkinson with Brian Greene in third.

Meanwhile, having led the rally on the opening day and setting fastest times in three of the four special stages, PROTON team mate PG Andersson was also forced to relinquish his lead on the second day of rallying.

Andersson’s Satria Neo S2000 experienced an abrupt loss of power as a result of a water crossing, a predicament that would later cost him to lose more than 14 minutes and dropping the Swedish driver to fourth in the APRC category.

With a large deficit to make up, Andersson however, was denied the chance of a roaring comeback on the third and final day by a second mechanical failure.

Rally New Caledonia was contested over a competitive distance of 252.82km covering 19 special stages.

“We had hoped for a repeat of last year’s double podium results in New Caledonia but the reality of rallying is such that all the hardwork and preparation is never a guarantee of a strong finish,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

“Having said this we take back some consolation in the fact that the Satria Neo S2000 is at it most competitive form in the hands of both McRae and Andersson having set a blistering pace at the head of the competition”

Meanwhile, PROTON’s director of group marketing, branding and motorsport John D. Chacko said Satria Neo S2000’s performance in New Caledonia earned the team renewed admiration and respect.

“The fighting spirit of the two drivers clearly outweighed the misfortunes we endured in New Caledonia and this only goes towards strengthening our resolve as we focus on the remaining rounds in the championship.”

S2000 rally car in Rally New Caledonia

PROTON ON TRACK IN RALLY NEW CALEDONIA

PROTON concluded a challenging round 2 in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with a series of misfortunes denying the team of a strong podium finish.

Alister McRae in Rally New Caledonia 2012

Despite starting Rally New Caledonia strongly, PROTON was not only forced to concede the lead going into the second day but also suffered one early retirement.

Defending APRC champion Alister McRae retired in the second special stage but continued on the final day under Super Rally format, winning three of the day’s six special stages to secure seven valuable championship points.

McRae finished day 3 ahead of Skoda’s Gaurav Gill and Chris Atkinson but was not eligible for a podium finish. Atkinson won the rally ahead of team mate Gill with Brian Greene in third.

Meanwhile, having led the rally on the opening day and setting fastest times in three of the four special stages, PROTON team mate PG Andersson was also forced to relinquish his lead on the second day of rallying.

Andersson’s Satria Neo S2000 experienced an abrupt loss of power as a result of a water crossing, a predicament that would later cost him to lose more than 14 minutes and dropping the Swedish driver to fourth in the APRC category.

With a large deficit to make up, Andersson however, was denied the chance of a roaring comeback on the third and final day by a second mechanical failure.

Rally New Caledonia was contested over a competitive distance of 252.82km covering 19 special stages.

“We had hoped for a repeat of last year’s double podium results in New Caledonia but the reality of rallying is such that all the hard work and preparation is never a guarantee of a strong finish,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

“Having said this we take back some consolation in the fact that the Satria Neo S2000 is at its most competitive form in the hands of both McRae and Andersson having set a blistering pace at the head of the competition.”

Meanwhile, PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsport John D. Chacko said the Satria Neo S2000’s performance in New Caledonia earned the team renewed admiration and respect.

“The fighting spirit of the two drivers clearly outweighed the misfortunes we endured in New Caledonia and this only goes towards strengthening our resolve as we focus on the remaining rounds in the championship. This without a doubt, shows PROTON’s continued perseverance and commitment to be better.”

About PROTON

PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia’s largest manufacturer of automobiles, and the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in South-East Asia. With operations in key markets from UK to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, especially in countries like China and Iran, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences.

Its offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, spacious and affordable multi-purpose vehicles, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus. Most importantly, PROTON models are now developed with Lotus Engineering, offering customers superior ride and handling experience in every drive.

PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. By listening to the needs of customers, PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieve the mission for the future, with PROTON set to become a marque which builds cars with passion and soul; cars that are a delight to drive – and a pleasure to own.

Upcoming APRC New Caledonia (28-29 April 2012)

After a blistering start to the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in New Zealand, the PROTON Motorsports team will be looking to repeat its superior pace and performance on next week’s second round, Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie.

PROTON drivers P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Alister McRae (Great Britain) were on great form on last month’s North Island opener, with Andersson setting comfortably the most fastest stage times and only missing out on the win after being forced to drive on a puncture for more than 20 kilometres. The team’s data shows Andersson lost one and a half minutes with that problem, yet he only missed out on the win by 30 seconds. Such speed has inspired confidence that PROTON can return to New Caledonia and repeat its victorious double podium of last season.

With this being Andersson’s first full year in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the two-time Junior World Rally Champion has not competed on many of the rallies on the schedule – and this will be his first time tackling the Pacific island event.

Based in Noumea on Grande Terre, the largest island in New Caledonia, the rally moves through the island’s beautiful lush vegetation and farming plains. One of the big features of this event is the fickle nature of the weather, particularly at this time of the year. Running in the southern hemisphere’s autumn, temperatures are dropping to around 20 degrees, but it’s the rain which often catches out the fastest rally drivers in the Asia-Pacific region. Grande Terre is a long and narrow island divided by a range of mountains running down the centre (two peaks in which are higher than 1,600 metres) and this is enough to cause the kind of micro-climatic downpours which regularly wreak havoc with tyre choice.

While Andersson might not have competed on this rally before, his team-mate McRae led the event last season on his way to winning the 2011 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The Scot will have plenty of advice for the Swede in the run up to round two.

And for those of you, like P-G, who are still not completely certain where the PROTON Motorsports Satria-Neo S2000s will be running next week, think around 1,500 kilometres east of Queensland and a little bit further north from the northernmost-tip of New Zealand. And that’s Noumea, home to around 100,000 of the native 250,000 New Caledonians.

P-G and Alister will be looking to give all quarter of a million plenty to cheer as PROTON rolls into the capital city for the island’s biggest motorsport event of the year. The Malaysian manufacturer is hunting for a second win in as many years and a more fitting return than the opening round.

Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
“We led this rally last season and it’s definitely one that I enjoy. In places the roads are really wide and fast, quite similar to the roads in Argentina, but then there are some other parts of the route which are really twisty and tight. The road surface changes quite a lot as well, with the clay-based roads becoming extremely slippery when it rains. And it does seem to rain quite a lot. I’ve been checking the weather over there quite a bit recently and it seems like there’s been a fair bit of rain in the run-up to the event. Winning the championship last year means I am first on the road on all the rounds this year and that was quite a disadvantage on the first round in New Zealand, but I don’t think it will be so much in New Caledonia. The rain is likely to have washed away much of the loose gravel from the surface before we get there and it’s possible running at the front might even give us a small advantage.”

P-G Andersson said:
“I have never been to this rally before, so it’s always exciting to try some new roads. I have to be honest here and say that I wasn’t completely sure where New Caledonia was before I knew we would be starting this rally – now I know more about the place and the rally. I have watched some videos from previous events, but nothing compares with the experience of actually getting into the stages on the recce. One thing I would be fairly sure of is that the roads won’t be so fast as they were on the first round in New Zealand. That’s a shame, I feel I go better on the faster stages, but let’s see. One thing is sure, I’m starting this event as I start every event – to win.”

Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood (Head of PROTON Motorsports) said:
“On the International Rally of Whangarei, P-G Andersson put up a good fight, but despite clocking fastest time on 11 out of the 16 stages he came in second after losing more than one minute in the longest stage with a puncture. Despite that setback, P-G clawed the time back in exciting style and with great pace to reduce the deficit to less than 30 seconds at the finish. We have demonstrated the Satria S2000 is able to match the Skoda and, with better luck, the Satria S2000 should be able to spring some surprises on the Rally of New Caledonia. As we progress and commit ourselves to be better, we are confident the team combination of P-G Andersson and Alister McRae will come through with a win in New Caledonia.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“The whole team is raring to go in New Caledonia. We felt a little bit short-changed by the opening round in New Zealand; the PROTON was the fastest car across the spread of the event and had it not been for one puncture I think P-G [Andersson] would have controlled the rally from the front. What was very encouraging from the opening event was the way P-G came back from that and, without really extending himself or the car, posted fastest time after fastest time. And that’s why we’re excited about this event, we know we have the speed, the car and the team to win. This is an event which can be all about experience, especially if the rain comes in and the grip level is constantly changing and that’s where a driver like Alister [McRae] really comes into his own; he has a fantastic ability to drive around the most treacherous of conditions and I’m sure he and P-G will be doing just that when we get to New Caledonia. Car-wise, we have done more differential and suspension testing which brings an improved set-up for the second round of the APRC.”

Event data:
Round: 2/6, FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Noumea, New Caledonia
Stages: 19
Liaison distance: 391.61km
Competitive distance: 252.82km
Total distance: 644.43km
Shakedown: GADJI (Friday April 27, 0700-1030)
Pre-event press conference: GADJI (Friday April 27, 1030)
Post-event press conference: Media centre, Hippodrome (Sunday April 29, 1630)
Time difference: New Caledonia is UTC +11

Event timetable:
Friday April 27
Start – Paita 1200
SS1 Gadji 1 (16.78km) 1208
SS2 Gadji 2 (16.78km) 1356
SS3 Hippodrome 1 (3.75km) 1522
SS4 Hippodrome 2 (3.75km) 1845

Saturday April 28
SS5 Calmines-Almameto 1 (24.10km) 0720
SS6 Mine Ada Mkm 1 (10.64km) 0809
SS7 Penamax 1 (8.52km) 0844
Service – N’go 0922
SS8 Calmines-Almameto 2 (24.10km) 1027
SS9 Mine Ada Mkm 2 (10.64km) 1116
SS10 Penamax 2 (8.52km) 1151
Service – N’go 1229
SS11 Calmines-Almameto 3 (24.10km) 1334
SS12 Mine Ada Mkm 3 (10.64km) 1423
SS13 Penamax 3 (8.52km) 1458
Service N’go 1536

Sunday April 29
SS14 Tabou 1 (8.61km) 0825
SS15 N’go Nickel Mkm 1 (10.40km) 0851
SS16 Pirogues Almameto 1 (24.41km) 0924
Service N’go 1005
SS17 N’go Nickel Mkm 2 (10.40km) 1105
SS18 Pirogues Almameto 2 (24.41km) 1138
SS19 Hippodrome 3 (3.75km) 1320
Finish – Hippodrome 1335

The 2012 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Rally of Whangarei (March 30-April 1) PROTON 2nd/4th
Rally de Nouvelle Caledonie (April 27-29)
International Rally of Queensland (May 25-27)
Malaysian Rally (July 13-15)
Rally Hokkaido (September 14-16)
China Rally Longyou (October 26-28

PROTON KICKS OFF APRC TITLE DEFENCE IN RALLY OF WHANGAREI, NEW ZEALAND

Proton S2000 – start ramp at APRC New Zealand 2011

Expectations run high as PROTON kicks off its 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) campaign this weekend at the Brother International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand.

Not only will PROTON start the season-opening rally as defending APRC manufacturer’s champion, but it will also return as favourites to defend its outright victory in New Zealand last year.

Leading PROTON’s 2012 APRC campaign in the Satria Neo S2000 is reigning APRC champion Alister McRae. He will be joined by former double junior world champion PG Andersson who will be making his debut in the championship.

PROTON will also field reigning 2WD APRC champion Karamjit Singh and defending APRC Junior champion Akira Bamba in the PROTON Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos. Joining the pair in New Zealand will be a third driver, Kenneth Koh, appearing in his first international rally in the 2WD APRC category. Koh won last year’s 2WD Malaysian Rally Championship (MRC) and is also the MRC junior champion and at the age of 17 went on to become the youngest ever in Malaysian rallying history to be on the podium.

Rally of Whangarei will be run over 16 special stages over a competitive distance of 283.28km. Leg 1 on Saturday consists of 8 special stages which include the longest in the rally at 32.11km and a 1.5km super special stage. The remaining 8 special stages will be run on Sunday.

PROTON won Rally of Whangarei outright last year and also secured the top two places amongst the registered APRC contenders. PROTON also went on to clinch first and second places in the two-wheel drive category with drivers Karamjit and Akira in the PROTON Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos.

“It’s really exciting to be back in the APRC as defending champion and it’s a championship we know pretty well now – this will be our third year in the APRC. One of the great things about this series is its wide variety of events and the diversity of the roads we get to drive on, it’s fantastic,” said McRae.

“Last year the pressure was on to win the APRC. With that done, the pressure this year is on keeping the title…The Satria-Neo S2000 has really come on from last year. The biggest gain, for me, is in the engine, which has got more torque lower down in the rev range; you can really feel the driveability in the medium-speed corners.”

For team mate Andersson, the opportunity to compete for PROTON in both the APRC and 2012 FIA Super World Rally Championship (S-WRC) will provide him with greater seat time in the Satria Neo S2000.

“People tell me the APRC series is a lot about experience, which is a bit tough for me as New Zealand is the first time I’ve ever competed on one of these rounds. But I’m not going to let that slow me down. I’ve got a hugely competitive spirit – as all drivers have at this level. I want to win every rally and championship I enter and this is no different,” said Andersson.

“The benefit I have this season is some great seat time in the PROTON. I’ve done two rounds of the SWRC already this year and we’ve gone really well on both of them; winning my home round of the championship [Rally Sweden] meant a lot to me. The Satria-Neo S2000 was absolutely faultless there. While this might be a new championship for me, I do have some idea of what to expect from round one; I have competed in New Zealand before and on some of the roads we will be using. They are the best stages in the world, without a doubt and I can’t wait to get the PROTON on them.”

In 2011, PROTON became the first car manufacturer to win all eight major individual titles in the APRC which includes: the APRC driver’s title; APRC manufacturer’s title; the APRC Teams Trophy; the FIA Asia Cup driver’s title; the FIA Pacific Cup driver’s title; the manufacturer’s title in the FIA APRC Rally Cup for two-wheel drive category; the APRC Rally Cup driver’s title; and FIA APRC Junior Cup driver’s title.

“After last year’s performance, the expectations this year are certainly higher. We also expect the competition to be a lot stiffer with the inclusion of Skoda and several new drivers in the APRC. This however, will only strengthen our resolve for 2012,” said Head of Proton Motorsports, Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood.

“Often referred to as a challenging proving ground by some of the world’s leading rally drivers, the APRC circuit will also impart valuable experience and knowledge on Andersson who will be making his debut in the championship this year. Together with defending champion McRae, we have a strong pair in contention for this year’s Driver’s and Manufacturer’s titles.”

Meanwhile, PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports John Chacko said starting this year’s campaign on top of the APRC tables coincides well with the launch of PROTON’s renewed export market initiative and the introduction of its first global car.

“In the last three years PROTON has clearly demonstrated our commitment to be better as a car manufacturer, brand and product. We rejoined the APRC in 2010 as an underdog, evolved to becoming a clear favourite in 2011 and now starting the 2012 season as defending champion. This has certainly earned us more fans and supporters both abroad and domestically, and above all, elevating the PROTON brand as a serious contender in the regional and global car markets.”

Proton S2000 with the crowds at Whangarei

PROTON R3 Cusco Rally Team features new Junior driver, Kenneth Koh

rally proton satria karamjit r3

The PROTON R3 Cusco Rally Team will feature Kenneth Koh, a new Junior Driver alongside 2011 APRC 2wd Champion Karamjit Singh, and 2011 APRC Junior Champion, Akira Bamba. Kenneth, who is from the town of Klang, Malaysia will be part of the APRC’s new Junior Cup competitors and next week will arrive in New Zealand for the first round.  While new to international rallying, Koh is very experienced and has a long rallying history. Add co-driver Jagdev Singh and the pair will no doubt figure highly in the Junior class.  Read on to learn a bit more about Kenneth in his own words as he tells us how he ended up here today.

 

“Rallying is in my DNA. I’ve been rallying since the age of 2, but not driving, SPECTATING and SUPPORTING! My dad is has been rallying in the 1990’s, so the passion towards rallying has started way before I can walk.  As I grew up, I’ve met numerous Malaysian rally legends like, Henry Yap, Ron Teoh and also Karamjit Singh. They are my inspiration and I respect them because I wanted to be a World Class Rally Driver like them. I did not have the opportunity like any other kids to start driving early. I grew up watching kids driving race karts in shah alam circuit wanting to try it out.

 

At the age of 17,  a close friend of my dad offered me to drive in a club event with his car. I finished 3rd in class. I learnt a lot that first time and I told myself to work hard for what I want. He continued supporting me for the next 2 years and in that period, I won numerous club events in the Junior Category and 1.6 litre category.

 

In 2011, I leased a rally car to attempt a full season of the Malaysian Rally Championship. It was really tough for me as I didn’t have any sponsors. I worked hard and was able to secure a few sponsors to support me to for Round 1,  MRC Johor. I started the rally with only RM50 in my wallet as I finised all my savings on the car. My co-driver in that rally is 18 year old Nicole Anne Perreau which was also her first time in a rally. Despite all that, we finished 5th overall outright in the Malaysian Rally Championship standings and 1st in 2WD and P11 class. Thankfully, my family was supportive and loaned me the funds I needed to continue. Round 2 of the Malaysian Rally Championship was quite disappointing as we were lying 6th overall on the 1st day, and as we started the 2nd day, our drive-shaft broke and we scored zero points. Despite this set back, I put my head down and focused on the next round. Round 3 was in Malacca and we finished 3rd overall on the podium!  We also created history by being the youngest driver and co-driver to be on the podium in Malaysian Rallying History. The rally was tough as it was raining heavily and conditions were very muddy.   Round 4 was the last round of the championship, run in the areas around the town of Bahau. Unfortunately, while lying in 4th overall, the car had some mechanical issues which forced me to stop in the stage. Despite this, we still finished 4th overall on the 1st day, and the lead was cut short. We finished 5th overall in Round 4.   The 2011 season ended with me and Nicole finishing 5th overall in the Malaysian Rally Championship, 1st 2wd, 1st junior and 3rd in P11 and P10. We’ve also created history by being the youngest rally driver to finish 1st in 2wd class in Malaysian Rallying History.

 

Although it’s only 1st year driving in the Malaysian Rally Championship, it is already a dream come true for me. The main lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing is impossible & never give up!    I’m very grateful to my family and friends who supported me all the way.  This is only the beginning and I hope that I will have greater opportunities to challenge myself and show what I’m made off.

PROTON CAN SECURE APRC MANUFACTURERS CUP IN RALLY CHINA.

Its a cold and wet day in Longyou, Zhejiang, China as we start the rally in our campaign to secure the Manufacturers title.

While Proton will fight it out with Mitsubishi for the cup, with Finnish driver Jari Ketomaa leading the charge, Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson will fight it out in an all-PROTON showdown for the driver’s title.

Proton Motorsports leads the way with car no.1 and 2. in a rally with over 90 cars, an amazing turnout for the China Rally Championship and last round of the APRC 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the ceremonial start, the first super special (1.82km) was run just outside Longyou town with Alister McRae finishing 1st in front of Jari Ketomaa and 3rd placed Chris Atkinson.

Alister 1:44.3, Ketomaa(FIN) 1:45.3 and Chris 1:45.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROTON scores perfect one-two in New Zealand

 
International Rally of Whangarei reviewJuly 17, 2011

PROTON Motorsports’ domination of this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship goes on. Satria Neo S2000 drivers Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae finished first and second in the APRC standings on the International Rally of Whangarei, which ended in New Zealand today.

Atkinson (Australia) has now won three from four APRC rounds this season and now holds a 21-point advantage over McRae (Great Britain) in what is looking increasingly like an all-PROTON fight for this year’s drivers’ title. The nearest non-PROTON driver is now 46 points adrift in third.

PROTON’s position at the top of the manufacturers’ standings is looking equally strong, following the Malaysian firm’s perfect one-two score on what was one of the toughest, longest and most arduous rounds of the series.

The local competition on New Zealand’s north island is tougher than anywhere else in the championship, with highly rated Kiwi Hayden Paddon providing the sternest challenge to the PROTONs.

Atkinson drove magnificently through wet conditions on yesterday’s opening leg (Saturday) to arrive at evening service with a 6.2-seconds advantage from Paddon, with McRae in the thick of the fight in third.

Atkinson’s only issue yesterday was running a harder tyre than he thought necessary, while McRae suffered a broken intercom mid-way through the second run at the event’s longest stage (SS6, Bull, 40.63km) and felt he should have taken a narrower Michelin in the morning.

Today, however, was all about Atkinson. Fastest on the first three stages of the day, the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship leader demonstrated the stunning pace he’d used to such devastating effect to win in Malaysia and New Caledonia earlier this season.

In total, Atkinson won five from eight Sunday stages to seal what he described as his most satisfying win of the season.

Even the New Zealand weather, which had been wet for the week prior to the event, improved as the Queenslander closed on victory over local ace Paddon, who had won this event three times before.

McRae’s hopes of clinching his first win of the season went south when he spun on the opener this morning and then discovered a minor water leak on the final loop of stages. After such a dominant performance the Scotsman was so far ahead of his nearest APRC competition, he could afford to ease off through the event’s final two stages and still ensure PROTON of its historic one-two on the FIA-qualifier.

Quotes:
Chris Atkinson said:
“This has been a fantastic rally. These roads really are the best in the world. They give you so much confidence all the time. Even in the tricky conditions, in the heavy rain we had, you know you can still push on down these stages. They’re so good to drive and to fight on. Yesterday, we didn’t have the right tyre; I think we could have run the soft compound, I struggled a little getting the heat into the tyre. But today, it’s been perfect. We were fastest this morning and, once I knew I could contain Hayden [Paddon], the focus was on doing just that all day. Like I said, these rallies reward an attacking style and I felt I could have gone quicker if I needed to today, which is also good for my confidence as a driver. It’s been a fantastic team performance. This event really shows how good the car is and how hard the team has worked in the last 12 months. A year ago, Paddon was beating us by 30 seconds or a minute in places, but this time around we’ve really shown what the PROTON is capable of. Winning in a place like this, where the competition is always given such a hard time by the really good local drivers, means a huge amount to me – it’s also pretty good for the championship!”

Alister McRae said:
“We came here looking to take some points off Chris [Atkinson], but that hasn’t really worked out. I have to hand it to him on this event, he has driven very, very well. We had a few niggling things, like the wrong tyre, the intercom and the spin this morning, but even with a clean run I think we would have struggled to get past him. Even though we had mixed fortunes on this event, I’ve really enjoyed the rally – you always do on these roads – and we’ve shown again the good steps we’ve taken with the car. The big thing here is the one-two in APRC for PROTON, that’s a great result for us and it’s only going to help for the manufacturers’ title. As for the drivers’ title, it looks like that could be between Chris and myself. I’m certainly not about to give up, we’re still in there fighting and we go to Japan and the next round looking to get ahead of him and set up a thriller of a final round in China.”

Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood (Head of PROTON Motorsports) said:
“This has been a fantastic result for PROTON and a further testimony to the Satria Neo S2000 coming of age in international rallying. Tremendous effort has gone into the development of the car and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the hard work beginning to pay huge dividends.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“This is what all the hard work is about, weekend’s like these: the perfect result for PROTON Motorsports. Everybody has worked so hard for this and it’s all come good. Beyond a small water leak on Alister’s car right at the end, there’s been absolutely nothing

with the cars all weekend; we haven’t put a spanner on them. The conditions were quite tricky. We had some torrential rain, which made the roads really slippery, but Chris [Atkinson] and Alister [McRae] drove brilliantly. Neither of them put a mark on the car and they finished one-two in APRC, nobody can ask for more than that, like I said: it’s perfect. I think this result really shows the way the development of the car is coming along as well; look where we were last year, struggling to match some of the local drivers and this time we have come along and beaten them. A good weekend.”

Event data:
Round: 4/6, FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Whangarei, New Zealand
Stages: 16
Liaison distance: 398.76km
Competitive distance: 301.90km
Total distance: 700.66km
Conditions: 15 degrees, rain
Day one leader: Chris Atkinson (PROTON)
Winner: Chris Atkinson (PROTON)

The 2011 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Malaysian Rally (April 1-3)
International Rally of Queensland (May 13-15)
Rally de Nouvelle Caledonie (June 17-19)
Rally of Whangarei (July 16-17)
Rally Hokkaido (September 30-October 2)
China Rally Longyou (November 4-6)

PROTON takes fourth at Rally of Queensland

Four’s not such a bad number. It’s better than being at fifth 5 and certainly a lot higher than 10.  At the Rally of Queensland that took place sometime mid May, Alister and co-driver Bill fended off a series of misfortunes to give PROTON a strong fourth place finish.

Beginning the day with an eight second advantage over Mitsubishi’s Gaurav Gill, they were forced to relinquish the rally when the Proton Satria Neo S2000’s engine began misfiring after a water crossing in one of the day’s seven special stages. Their charge back to the top was dealt an even serious blow when they were forced to slow down considerably as a result of a broken drive shaft over 50km of the last three special stages of the rally, causing them to lose more time. Despite this, they managed to hang on to 4th place in front of a Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia, in his Mitsubishi Evolution 10.

“With no service interval, we were forced to slow down and nurse the car to the finish. It was a tough event, one that presented us with a lot of challenges. McRae and I are obviously disappointed in not being able to secure a podium finish but considering the circumstances, finishing fourth at least sees us heading to the next APRC round with valuable championship points,” said Bill.

Rejoining the final day of the rally after an early retirement on day two, Chris endured a second electrical failure which ended his rally.

The rally was won by British driver Mark Higgins, who finished 16 seconds ahead of Gill, while in third place was Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi.

It was a hard fought rally, and while the team were hoping for a better result after a strong start, fourth place amidst an unfortunate last day will nevertheless go a long way in extending their position in the overall manufacturer’s championship, with full points on Leg 1 and some good points on Leg 2 with a 4th overall and 1st in Class 2.

Meanwhile, PROTON’s 1600cc group N Satria Neos finished 9th and 11th overall in the rally, and 1st and 2nd in class at the hands of Karamjit Singh and Proton Cusco Rally Team mate Akira Bamba.

Better luck next time 🙂

Malaysian Rally : We are the champions!

The PROTON Motorsports rally team did it! They won, and what a sweet victory too, with Chris at 1st and Alister at 3rd placing overall. Congratulations team PROTON!


With  an entirely new suspension set-up and significant engine enhancements, Chris steered the Neo to victory finishing 1 minute 36.6 seconds ahead of MRF’s Gaurav Gill in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with Alister coming in at third.

Restarting the third and final day of the rally in Kota Tinggi with a lead of 2 minutes 10 seconds, Chris was quickly forced to concede 30 seconds to an attacking Gill, as he nursed a right rear puncture sustained midway into the opening 12.42km special stage at Tai Tak – Court House.

With the punctured tyre replaced and unable to afford another puncture, Chris then paced the Satria Neo S2000 through the two remaining 11.97km and 14.26km special stages to return safely to the scheduled service interval. With four special stages remaining, he needed only to steer clear of trouble and maintain an already comfortable lead.

Alister thinks the results were fantastic and that the Neo performed extremely well throughout the rally. It was especially satisfying for him to have been able to demonstrate the car’s true potential, competitiveness and its level of pace and performance in front of the home crowd. Alister also celebrates his first ever victory and only second podium finish with PROTON since joining the team last year.

For Alister, third place was every bit rewarding as he had to manage an overheating problem caused by debris and vegetation blocking the air path to the radiator through the front bumper grille. The podium finish also places him second behind Gaurav, in the Asia Cup category.

Victory was even more meaningful for Alister’s co-driver Stephane Prevot who in his 24 years of rallying, celebrated his 300th rally on top of the podium and the APRC standings.

The third and final day of the Malaysian Rally was run over seven special stages totaling 79.80km. Heavy downpour just hours before the rally was due to start on the second day had wrecked havoc on the event, inflicting so many serious casualties and eliminating most of the top seeded drivers, as what had earlier been dry and dusty quickly became muddy and slippery conditions.

The Satria Neo S2000’s pace and performance in Malaysia forms a strong foundation for further development in preparation for the next round of the APRC which moves to Australia next month and with five more very competitive rounds to contest.

Outstanding results for PROTON at the Malaysian Rally also extended to the two debutante front-wheel driven 1600cc Satria Neos. Competing for the very first time, the two cars finished 8th and 9th overall at the hands of PROTON Cusco Rally Team’s Akira Bamba and Kosuke Takashino. Both drivers also clinched 1st and 2nd in the APRC Junior Cup category.

Well done again to the team, the engineers and the people behind the scenes who made it happen. Also a big shoutout to all our fans who kept the faith and remained our strong supporters. THANK YOU!

More pictures and videos at our Facebook page. Bubye for now 😉