Category Archives: General

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PROTON Motorsports Exhilarating Podium Finish in New Caledonia!

They did it! The team finished first and third place overall at the Rally De Nouvelle Caledonie last weekend to clinch its second successive victory after three rounds of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

PROTON@podium

Chris scored his second win of the season, together with co-driver Stephane Prevot in the all famous yellow Neo finishing the three-day event ahead of Pertamina Cusco Racing’s Rifat Sungkar in the more powerful turbocharged Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

Meanwhile, Alister drove to a hard-fought third place after having conceded his early lead in the rally due to a puncture and broken driveshaft.

Victory in New Caledonia saw team PROTON claiming not only the overall victory, but also top honors amongst the APRC contenders and finishing first in the Pacific Cup. PROTON also clinched the APRC Team Trophy at the event.

“It’s a phenomenal result for PROTON, the entire team and for Stephane and I personally. Our rally wasn’t exactly trouble free especially with a broken driveshaft in day 2 but we were lucky we had built a big enough gap to have it replaced and still hang on to the lead,” said Chris.

“In terms of power, performance and reliability, the Satria Neo S2000 performed like a gem this weekend.”

A superb shot of the Neo in action!

With maximum points scored in New Caledonia, Chris moves into the lead of the APRC Driver’s Championship with 58 points, just two points ahead of Alister. In third place is currently Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill who retired in New Caledonia. Alister also reclaims the top spot in the Asia Cup Driver’s Championship ahead of Gill. Also moving to first and second places in the APRC Co-Driver’s Championship are Stephane Prevot and Billy Hayes with 58 and 56 points respectively.

The team now stretches its lead in the APRC Teams Trophy with 128 points ahead of Team MRF that had both drivers retiring in New Caledonia.

And as a bonus, Karamjit Singh also won the Two-Wheel Drive Category in his 1600cc Satria Neo which extends his lead in the Driver’s Championship and PROTON’s lead in the Manufacturer’s Championship to 78 points respectively. Karamjit finished ninth overall in the rally.

So of course everyone’s over the moon with the victory, and rightfully so. It goes to show how competitive the Neo S2000 is, despite enduring its share of misfortunes and technical issues along the way this year. The cars competed against more powerful turbocharged cars and won rallies!

We’re so proud of the team and wish them all the best as they move on to the Ypres Rally in Belgium coming up very soon.

Meanwhile, check out exclusive photos of the New Caledonia rally and behind the scene photos of the team including amazing pictures of the island and its people at our official Facebook page.

Bien Hecho, PROTON!

Hola!  The team were in Spain recently, for the Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles in Spain.

Amidst stiff competition, our boys Giandomenico Basso and Pg Andersson rallied the Satria Neo Super 2000 to PROTON’s best finish yet this season at the Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés in Spain. They secured PROTON’s first championship points in this round of the IRC which took place from 15th – 16th April 2011.

A little about the rally first. The rally attracted the participation of 35 drivers competing in the IRC category, with Peugeot represented with the largest contingent of super 2000 cars, fielding six 207 S2000 followed by Skoda with five Fabia S2000 cars.

Now moving to the action, Basso’s spirited drive to ninth place earned him two points in the driver’s championship, and 16 points for PROTON in the manufacturer’s championship. PROTON was the best of Asian manufacturer in Spain, finishing ahead of Suzuki, Honda and Subaru, and finished ahead of European manufacturers Citroen, Renault and Ford.

PG Andersson meanwhile, completed the rally in 16th after losing a lot of ground on day one of the rally due to two punctures. Andersson stopped to change a first puncture but with the absence of a second spare tyre, was forced to tackle special stage six with another slow puncture. That dropped him to drop to19th overall, losing more than six minutes but the Swedish driver fought back hard on the second and final day to reduce the deficit and settled for 16th.

The results in Spain also places PROTON fourth in the IRC championship point standings after two rounds behind leaders Skoda and Peugeot, and just two points adrift of Subaru currently in third place.

The top eight places in Spain were dominated by Skoda and Peugeot, with defending IRC champion Juho Hanninen rallying to victory ahead of Skoda team mate Jan Kopecky. Finishing third was Thierry Neuville in the Peugeot 207 S2000.

Basso was 49 seconds behind Bruno Magalhaes who finished eighth in another Peugeot 207 S2000, and 48 seconds ahead of former World Rally Championship driver Toni Gardemeister in a fifth Skoda Fabia S2000 to make up the top 10 fastest drivers.

Well done boys. It’s a positive result and a good start and we look forward to more positive performances in the future.

Meet the PROTON R3 Satria Neo

There’s a new kid in town! Engineered for more spirited and dynamic driving enjoyment, we recently introduced the exclusive Proton R3 Satria Neo hot hatch.

Built by the talented folks at our Motorsports Division under the Race, Rally, Research (R3) brand name, the car is distinctively recognizable by its striking Fire Red exterior with a black painted roof.

Running the tried and tested 1600cc CAMPRO CPS engine, R3 engineers have upgraded its performance with the addition of Stage 2 performance upgrades inviting car enthusiasts to experience a greater dose of excitement. This increases power from the standard 125 bhp and 150 Nm of torque to 145 bhp at 7000 rpm and 168 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm coupled to a close ratio 5-speed manual transmission.

The R3 Satria Neo is an extension of PROTON’s involvement and experience in motor racing, and caters to a demanding segment of customers and enthusiasts who desire vehicles that are purpose-built for performance as much as it is practical for everyday usage.

The R3 Satria Neo’s promises an exhilarating drive. It’s features include an all-round CPS bodykit; an R3 designed rear roof spoiler; a front lip for improved down force; titanium coloured side strips; and a more muscular stance the result of a 10 mm drop in ride height. R3 engineers also made significant enhancements to ride and handling, with the use of specially-designed R3 performance springs for reduced body roll; recalibrated alignment, toe and camber settings for more grip and steering precision; and R3 edition 16” inch gunmetal lightweight alloys wrapped in softer compound Bridgestone Potenza RE001R 205/45 series profile tyres for better traction.

Inside, the R3 Satria Neo features a sporty, yet classy and alluring matte red and black two-tone interior. R3 limited edition front bucket seats wrapped in nappa leather with ‘Trivel’ finish, carbon effect PVC and red stitching replaces the standard seats. Its fiery personality is also accentuated by the use of matte red dashboard trims, gear console and handbrake handle; two-tone door trims; R3 floor carpets, an engine start button; aluminium foot pedals and gear knob.

Safety features built into the car include high performance brake pads capable of withstanding high-temperatures of up to 400 degree Celsius for increased fade resistance often associated with constant heavy braking; dual front airbags, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). The car also comes fitted with Ecotint solar and security protection, and a 2-DIN audio head unit with 3D GPS navigation.

The R3 Satria Neo is priced at RM79,797 on-the-road inclusive of road tax and insurance, and can be viewed at Proton Edar’s Crystal showroom at the Proton Centre of Excellence, Shah Alam and any of the three Platinum showrooms located at  Mutiara Damansara, Juru and Plentong. Bookings can be made immediately at any of Proton Edar’s 23 sales branches throughout Peninsular Malaysia with a fee of RM2,000 and purchasers can expect the car delivered to them within four weeks of obtaining loan approval.

For more information, visit your nearest PROTON showroom today, call PROTON i-care at 1-300-880-888 or log on to http://www.r3.proton.com.

The Rallye of Monte Carlo – Over too soon for the team

By now you may have heard the news – for those who have not, well luck was just not on our side this time around. The team has retired from the Rallye of Monte Carlo on the first day after a seemingly promising start, with both Chris and PG eventually falling out from the race. Since super rally rules do not apply for this event, the team will not be able to continue on day 2. They are disappointed for sure, but unfazed.

Chris stopped due to electrical problems at SS1 and the cause of the problem is still being investigated while PG had an accident.  PG was ranked 12th fastest on SS1 out of 36 S2000 cars; but then unfortunately met with a minor accident at SS2 that forced him to retire from the rally. 15 other cars retired at this stage as well.

120 cars are contesting in the Rallye Monte Carlo, and we wish the rest of the drivers the best of luck. For updates and news on the other contestants of the IRC Rallye of Monte Carlo, click here.

It takes determination and skill to navigate the Col De Turini, at top speed and in challenging conditions. Well done to the team for their efforts. Remember that each time you fail, you move one step closer to succeeding. There’s still a long journey to go this season and it’s only just the beginning.

Quotes
Chris Atkinson said:

“When I woke up this morning, I was really looking forward to driving the car. There’s nothing like the feeling of driving one of these rally cars as fast as you can down a stage, it’s awesome and it’s why we do what we do. And everything was cool from the start, no dramas, warmed the tyres up, off the line, everything was good, then nothing. We were less than a kilometre in and the car stopped. The engine had cut and there was nothing, no electrics at all. We couldn’t start the car. I tried to fix it, but there was nothing we could do. The team have looked at the data now and the problem was caused by a voltage surge which blew the control box. This has never happened to us before in testing or anything, it’s an absolute mystery – but when things don’t go your way, they really don’t go your way. The frustration is that we had the engine working really well in the test, it was great. The performance is definitely coming. It’s actually a really unusual feeling on the event, this was the first time I’ve retired on the first stage of an event and been completely out of the rally. I’m not a huge fan of superally [the regulation permitting crews to re-enter events on the following day], but I really would have been today. It just seems such a waste that we’ve now got two perfect rally cars sitting here doing nothing; the fans would love to have seen the cars on the stages tomorrow and P-G and I would love to have been driving them.”

P-G Andersson said:

“The first stage was good, no problems. I wasn’t pushing too hard, it was the first stage and we wanted to settle down. About five kilometres into the second stage, there was a double right-hander into a left, the car slid a little wide. I saw a ditch coming, there were some leaves in the ditch, but I thought it would be okay. It wasn’t, there was a big stone hiding under the leaves; we hit the stone and broke the front-left wheel rim, which caused us to have a puncture. Three kilometres later, while we were braking for a hairpin, one of the arm’s broke on the car and the wheel turned out. That was it, there was nothing we could do. We had to stop. I tried to fix it, but it was very doubtful that we would have got the car to service after the next stage. It’s really disappointing that this is the result of our debut with PROTON. Clearly, the car has good potential and it would have been fantastic to take a result for the team on my first time in the Satria, but it hasn’t gone that way. The new engine was good, we were getting more power lower down in the rev range, it was easier to drive than before. It’s just so frustrating that we don’t have superally to go out and do some more driving in the car, it would have been very useful to get some testing mileage done.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:

“The whole team is feeling the frustration from what has happened today, that goes without saying. We were all really upbeat coming into Monte Carlo, we’d done four days’ testing in the Alps and another three back in the UK – and we hadn’t put a spanner on the car. And today we have one car out with a simple accident, if you can call it an accident, and one car out with a freak electrical issue. I honestly wonder if there’s anything left for us to see, it’s just incredible. It’s a real shame for Chris [Atkinson], he’s gone out very early, but P-G [Andersson] took a sensible approach and came out of SS1 in 11th, I’m confident we would have been well inside the top 10 if it hadn’t been for his problems. We came here with a revised specification of engine and that worked well, the drivers were pleased with the way it was working – delivering the torque lower down in the rev range. We’ve taken some steps and we have seen the benefits from those steps, that’s one of the good things we take from here. Despite what has happened, there’s still a huge positivity around the team, we all know what PROTON Motorsports and this car is capable of. We’re unlocking the potential, there’s more to come.”

*****

On a brighter note, lucky grand prize winner Mohd Akram Zaki who won himself a trip for two to the rally in the Rallye of Monte Carlo online game, was given a ride of his life in Monaco. Akram and his friend, Nik Mohd Azhar were taken on a taxi ride in the Satria Neo S2000 rally cars by the drivers during shakedown a day before the rally began. Check out what Akram has to say here (It’s short, but its sweet!).

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

Congratulations once again Akram, we hope you had a wonderful time! And to the rest of our fans, stay tuned for more exciting news from us in the future.

Leaving you for now with more pictures below. Have a great weekend, people!

Neo in action @Rallye Monte Carlo

@the service park

Contest winner gets a ride of his life~

Team shot. Akram and Zaki are somewhere in there as well 🙂

PROTON Motorsports charges ahead into the new rallying season for 2011!

Before we begin, we would like to wish all our dear readers of the PROTON Motorsports blog a very Happy New Year; we hope that this year will be a prosperous and exciting year for everyone 🙂

Handing of the Jalur Gemilang by the Minister of Youth & Sports to PROTON Motorsports Rally Team 2011 From left to right : Alister McRae, YBhg. Dato’ Zainuddin Che Din, YABhg Tun Mahathir Mohamad, YB Dato’ Ahmad Shabery Cheek, YBhg Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, YBhg Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Chris Atkinson & sponsor representatives Toshihiro Ohashi and Mohamad Nuhairi b. Dato' Paduka Rahmat

It’s an exciting year for PROTON Motorsports. Early last week, we kicked off the 2011 rally season with our very own Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister YB Dato’ Ahmad Shabery Bin Cheek passing the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag) to the team. The handing over of the Jalur Gemilang kickstarts PROTON’s involvement in another full season of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with the Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car.

We also sport a new look this year onwards. Do you like our new logo?

The new PROTON Motorsports logo embodies its synergy with PROTON, the company. The Tiger head symbolizes the link between PROTON Motorsports and PROTON whilst the colour yellow denotes the official colour of the rally team. The new logo will now represent all PROTON’s motorsport activities.

And so, the Proton Motorsports team will begin the season by participating in the IRC Rallye of Monte Carlo in Monaco this month.

The Rallye of Monte Carlo and new driver lineup

On the rally itself; the Rallye of Monte Carlo (officially known as Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo) is organized each year by the Automobile Club de Monaco who also organizes the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. The rally takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France. From its inception in 1911 by Prince Albert I, the rally is known to run under difficult and demanding conditions. It’s also the world’s oldest rally and will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at the same time. Lots of rally history in Monaco indeed.

The team will feature regular driver Chris Atkinson who will be joined by two-time FIA Junior World Rally Champion P-G Andersson. In addition to Atkinson and Andersson, Alister McRae will remain with the team for next season, contesting the APRC series and selected rounds of the IRC.

30-year-old Swede Andersson has been rallying since the nineties and has won rally championships since 2002. His many accomplishments include bagging the title of Junior World Rally Champion in the year 2004 and 2007 and he has also been a consistent performer in the international rally scene;  capable of setting fast stage times on any surface.

P-G Andersson

The Rallye of Monte Carlo is nothing new to our drivers, with Atkinson arriving in the principality with three starts and three finishes on an event that’s rated among the most difficult in the world. Atkinson has never finished outside the top six and collected a FIA World Rally Championship podium in 2008. Andersson has also contested the rally three times, taking a strong eighth place on the 2008 event.

We hope that the team will perform well in Monaco and create history in the very place where the world’s oldest rally event will be holding its centenary celebrations. It would certainly be an honour and as always we will hope for the best and support the team regardless of the outcome.

It’s going to be a great year, and we hope the same for you!

*** Watch a video of Andersson on his first outing in the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 in mid December, where he underwent his first test in the French Alps. He completed more than 200 kms in heavy snow without any glitch. To watch the video, click here.

*** The Rallye to Monte Carlo online contest has also just ended. Congratulations to Mohd Akram Zaki for winning the Rallye to Monte-Carlo online contest. He wins an all expense trip for 2 to watch the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo in Monaco on 19 January 2011. We just love rewarding our fans!

Television Updates

Before we post the announcement on the above, please allow us to wish all our fellow Malaysians a very Happy Malaysia Day. For the benefit of our fans across the globe, Malaysia Day marks the commemoration of the establishment of the Malaysian Federation in 1963. Quite a mouthful? Simply put, the states Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia on this day.

The reason we celebrate two ‘independence’ days (our Independence day falls on 31 August every year)  is due to the fact that declaration of independence of Sabah and Sarawak was delayed for more than two weeks to allow time for the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission to complete its work by Sept 16, 1963. Hence, we have Malaysia day as well.

And yes, we have another holiday today after the long Eid holidays. I love this country!

Back to rally talk. Here’s some telly updates for our fans worldwide :

**Fox Sports Australia will be airing Episode 1 of the 2010 Asia Pacific Rally Championship on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5.00pm on Fox 1.

**On Friday 17th, ESPN STAR Sports will air Episode 2 at 10.00pm on their SEA and Malaysia beams.

Full broadcast schedules i.e. the September Television schedules for ESPN STAR Sports Asia, MOTORS TV Europe, and FOX SPORTS Australia are as below:

ESPN STAR Sports – Asia

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

STAR Sport China

SUN 19-Sep-10 15:00:00

MON 20-Sep-10 3:00:00

MON 20-Sep-10 8:00:00

THU 23-Sep-10 20:30:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sport HK

SAT 18-Sep-10 16:30:00

SUN 19-Sep-10 1:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 3:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 8:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 15:00:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sports India

FRI 24-Sep-10 22:30:00

SAT 25-Sep-10 12:00:00

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STAR Sports Malaysia

FRI 17-Sep-10 22:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 3:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 12:30:00

MON 20-Sep-10 13:00:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sports SEA

FRI 17-Sep-10 22:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 3:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 12:30:00

MON 20-Sep-10 13:00:00

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STAR Sports TW

SAT 18-Sep-10 2:00:00

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MOTORS TV – France

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:52:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:52:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 10:06:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 18:27:00

84260 WED 29 September 2010 15:48:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 21:00:00

———————————————————————————–

MOTORS TV – Europe

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:18:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:42:00

84260 SAT 25 September 2010 04:23:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 19:40:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 01:27:00

84260 MON 27 September 2010 10:27:00

84260 TUES 28 September 2010 14:26:00

84260 TUES 28 September 2010 01:19:00

84260 WED 29 September 2010 18:18:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 15:01:00

84260 FRI 1 October 2010 05:16:00

84260 WED 6 October 2010 23:10:00

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MOTORS TV UNITED KINGDOM

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:53:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:30:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 00:35:00

84260 MON 27 September 2010 10:00:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 15:00:00

84260 FRI 1 October 2010 05:02:00

84260 WED 6 October 2010 23:58:00

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FOX Sports – Australia

Episode 1 – Malaysia/Japan

16 September 2010 – 17:00 Fox 1

17 September 2010 – 07:00 Fox 2

More details, including air/dates in Europe can be obtained at the APRC TV website.

Don’t forget to watch the episodes in your respective regions! And have a great weekend ahead 🙂

The PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team – Barum Czech Rally Zlin

by T.Jan

The PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team is headed for the Czech Republic for the upcoming Intercontinental Rally Challenge(IRC) – the Barum Czech Rally Zlin. The event will be held on 27-29 August 2010. This time the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team will not be represented by the usual lineup of drivers but will be represented by former Production Car World Rally Champion Niall McShea and reigning British Rally Champion Keith Cronin.

Niall McShea

The current drivers were selected based on their experience and involvement in testing work done in the development of the Satria. Both drivers Niall McShea and Keith Cronin are very experienced and have set impressive timing in previous rallies.

The 24 year old Cronin was crowned British Rally Championship last season and McShea clocked third fastest in the opening stages of Rally Ireland last year driving for PROTON.

McShea and Cronin will test the Satria Neo S2000 before the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, in preparation for the challenging asphalt stages ahead of them.

Keith Cronin

On the change of drivers for this round of IRC, team manager Datuk Razak Dawood said:

“The drivers are among the best talents around with experience and skill in handling tarmac events. Niall McShea’s last outing was with PROTON at last year’s Rally Ireland where he achieved third fastest time on the opening stage. Keith Cronin just won International Rally Isle of Man, known to be one of the toughest tarmac events in the world. These are the reasons why they were selected for this round and the experience they bring to the team will also help us further improve the PROTON S2000 for tarmac events.”

Rally Zlin will begin on Friday, 27 August 2010 with a super special stage comprising three laps of the city centre followed by eight asphalt stages. The main action on this hugely popular event starts the next day, when crews face eight asphalt stages in the fast but technical lanes surrounding Zlin. The event will end on Sunday, 29 August 2010 with a further eight stages. A record number of 28 Super2000 cars appear on the 2010 Barum Czech Rally Zlin entry list. This is the 40th anniversary of the event, which also qualifies for the European Rally Championship.

The ninth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge boasts top entries from Skoda, Peugeot, Ford, Proton and Mitsubishi.

Meanwhile, here are the local television broadcast times for the Czech Rally:

ASTRO EUROSPORT (channel 814)

Sun Aug 29 2010

Showing at 03:02am on Eurosport : Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Czech Republic – Day 1.

Showing at 12:47pm on Eurosport : Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Czech Republic – Day 1.

Mon Aug 30 2010

Showing at 05:17am on Eurosport : Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Czech Republic – Day 2.

Tue Aug 31 2010

Showing at 21:32 on Eurosport : Intercontinental Rally Challenge

*Don’t forget to catch the team on telly and we wish the team all the best in the upcoming rally!*

The other side of rally

It’s not always about loud exhausts and screeching brakes at rallies. If you thought rally events were just about the rallying bit, well you’ve not quite grasped the enormity of the entire event.

At rallies, many other events take place. There are car shows and exhibitions, entertainment and charity events. At one of the previous rallies, the organizers even brought in little ponies for rides, had dogs and roosters (yes, roosters!) on show and life size cartoon characters were running all around the grounds of the service park! I suppose these were added attractions to the actual event itself, that lent to the overall festive mood of the service park and surrounding areas. At the recent Australian rally, there was even a special cocktail created in honour of our S2000 – how flattering!

The S2000 cocktail @Rally Queensland

Life sized cartoon character at the closing ceremony of Rally Hokkaido

Ponies on display at the service park – Rally Hokkaido

Then there are the fans, the wonderful supportive fans. They who come from far and near to catch the cars and drivers in action, some going home with autographs and other merchandise the team may have given them, others just happy to have had a glimpse of their favourite teams, cars and drivers. Some fans even go as far as making their own merchandise! And may I add, the team at PROTON simply love their fans to bits!

Fans gathered at the PROTON service tent in Hokkaido

And finally rally events don’t forget the needy. And the team is ever ready to support any good cause. While at the Rally of Queensland recently, PROTON took the opportunity to contribute to a good cause by participating in a charity auction. The auction was organized by Variety Queensland, an Australian based worldwide charity for children. Shirts were signed by the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally team’s ace drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson and put up for auction to raise funds for the charitable organization.  We hope they manage to raise a significant amount for the cause they believe in.

Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson signing T-shirts to be auctioned for charity at Rally Queensland

So you see, it’s not always just about men and women in crazily fast cars…:)

Rally Whangarei : Sweet podium finish

Apologies for the late update here on the PROTON Motorsports blog. I have been away for a bit…but I am back and I must say all of us at PROTON are just so happy for the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team, we had our very first podium finish at the Rally of New Zealand. Finally, all hard work paid off for the team.

Let’s go through a quick recap of the New Zealand rally.

Attended by thousands of spectators, the rally, a four day event, run over the toughest of the North Island roads in typically changeable Kiwi conditions saw dry sunny conditions on Day 1 of the rally with a sudden bout of heavy rain on Sunday day 2. Suffice to say, visibility was poor on day 2 for the drivers and it was a challenge indeed.

Alister McRae, who drove on both days with the main aim to garner more points, was rewarded with an entirely untroubled second place.

Chris however, retired on day 1 due to a snapped alternator belt but returned on day 2 under super rally rules. He set the fastest time on SS9 but unfortunately had to stop at SS14 due to an unidentified engine problem.

Also, both Alister and Chris were regularly in the top three APRC times throughout the rally.

Alister & Bill were initially positioned at third place during the closing ceremony due to an error by the organizers which was later rectified.

Hayden Paddon in a Mitsubishi EVO IX and John Kennard, both Kiwi drivers, took victory on both days. 23 year old Hayden Paddon also won 13 of the event’s 16 competitive stages and set five new stage records.

You’ll find more updates and pictures on our Facebook page so if you’re not a fan, you should join us now.

Once again, well done to the team and here’s to PROTON’s first podium finish for 2010 and more to come!

Next up is the International Rally of Queensland. More details on the upcoming rally in future posts.

Leaving you with some quotes from the team and do have yourselves a splendid week ahead!

Alister McRae:
“I knew the car was capable of this kind of performance, and I know it’s capable of going quicker as well. Taking second in the APRC here is really important for the team, it’s a real shot in the arm for everybody. But now we want to win. We know we have the pace to win these APRC rounds and that’s got to be the next step in Australia at the end of the month. In the end, we had the perfect rally.

We didn’t have to touch the car at all, the boys didn’t lay a spanner on the PROTON once, which is really encouraging from a reliability point of view. We weren’t going anywhere near flat out with the car, though. The main aim from this event was to pick up points and that’s what we have done. What a great place to go rallying, though. Even in the pouring rain today, it was fantastic to drive those stages again. You can really put the hammer down and push on, knowing the car’s going to stick before leaping over the cambers and into the corner. It’s been a great weekend.”

Chris Atkinson:
“I love the roads down here in New Zealand and this car suited the stages perfectly. I was amazed at just how much speed you could carry through the corners in this car, there’s so much grip in the PROTON, it’s fantastic. We managed to set some competitive times on this event, which is pleasing. But what’s more important is that we know what we were doing to set those times and, believe me, there’s more to come from the car.

We arrived in Whangarei with a bit of pressure on, you know we hadn’t pulled the result we might have done in the IRC round [at Ypres] and while we’d shown great stage times and Alister led and almost won in Malaysia, we needed to put some points away down here. Unfortunately for us, we had a freak thing with the alternator belt on the first day: had it not been for that I reckon there would have been two PROTONs on the podium and who knows who would have been on which step! This has been a really positive and encouraging weekend.”

Chris Mellors (team principal):
“I’m happy with that result. Both drivers were out there under strict instructions about how to drive the cars, so we know there’s more to come from the Satria and Alister and Chris. I was really pleased with the way Chris went in particular, he showed some great speed and set some very good times, some of which we’re told were close to stage records set in the dry. Alister was, as usual, very competitive, quick and consistent.

We’ve had a bit of a tough run recently, so to be heading home with a result, second place under our belts, puts more wind in the sails. We’re going to be doing some more testing and more development work ahead of the next APRC round in Queensland. Like Alister said, we want to take that next step up the podium.”