Category Archives: IRC

REVIEW OF THE SANREMO RALLY

PROTON Motosports driver Chris Atkinson will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for next week’s Rallye Sanremo as preparation for what could be the biggest moment of the Australian’s rally career one week later.

Atkinson has dominated this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, winning three from four rounds of the series, and is well placed to seal the FIA title for the Malaysian manufacturer on the Rally Hokkaido, which starts in Japan on September 30. Next week’s Rallye Sanremo will be the perfect opportunity for the Queenslander to hone his competitive instinct.

PROTON Motorsports’ regular driver Giandomenico Basso will partner Atkinson in Sanremo.

Rallye Sanremo will be Atkinson’s second IRC outing of the year and, after a season of travelling around the Asia-Pacific region, racing through the Ligurian Alps will feel like home for the Monaco-based driver. Atkinson and Basso will make a formidable team for the next IRC round, with double FIA European Rally Champion Basso a former winner of his home round of the series.

As has often been the case in teaming up an IRC programme with its FIA APRC commitments, the PROTON Motorsports team will be doing plenty of travelling in the next month. Hours after crossing the finish line in Sanremo, the team will be packing up and flying east for Hokkaido. And on the completion of the Japanese event complete, PROTON will return to Europe for Rally of Scotland, meaning three rallies on two continents in three weeks.

Chris Atkinson said: 
“It’s great to be back in the IRC again. I’ve done the recce for this event before, but never competed in Sanremo. It’s fair to say that this is one of the events I’ve always wanted to do: it’s one of the classics and a really tough event. From what I remember some of the stages can be quite technical and then there’s the night stage, which is going to be a big challenge. I haven’t competed for a while now, so I’m really keen to get back in the car, especially on asphalt as I haven’t driven on that surface since January. Competing in Sanremo will definitely help me for the following week in Japan. There’s nothing like time in the car to keep you sharp. The competition in IRC will be really tough as usual. Those boys have been out racing pretty much every other week and that really gets you on the ball as a driver. I’m pretty fortunate having a team-mate like Giandomenico [Basso], he’s got plenty of knowledge on setting the car up on these roads and for tyre choice if the weather closes in.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“I love this rally. It’s a rally that I’ve done plenty of times before and I’ve got some good memories from Sanremo. I’ve won it before and I nearly won there last year as well. I love the long stages; I’ve always liked long stages as you really have to think a lot about the car and the tyres over the whole stage – it’s not like the short stages where you just go. There’s a really special atmosphere to Sanremo; it’s a great place to be in a rally car. This is a rally where experience definitely helps and you need to concentrate very hard because of all the corners. It’s a really technical event that is not easy to master; you have to be really on top of the car. The speeds are not that fast and that makes it more demanding, physically and mentally. Then of course you have the long stage at night, which is a really tough test for everyone. It’s a great rally and this week we want to see our guests from Malaysia encouraged by what they see.”

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Watch some cool youtube videos on the team during unofficial testing in the Czech Republic!

Barum Czech Rally Zlin preview

proton s2000 rally irc

August 19, 2011

Next week’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin will kick-start one of the busiest periods in PROTON Motorsport’s history – as the Malaysian firm tackles five events on two continents in just seven weeks.

Two-time FIA Junior World Rally Champion P-G Andersson (Sweden) and double FIA European Rally Champion Giandomenico Basso (Italy) will return to the Satria Neo S2000s, having demonstrated the pace and potential of the car in the highly competitive Intercontinental Rally Challenge earlier this year.

PROTON Motorsport’s hectic schedule means the team goes from the Czech Republic next week to Hungary for the Mecsek Rallye (IRC); Italy for Rallye Sanremo (IRC); Japan for Rally Hokkaido (FIA APRC) and Great Britain for Rally of Scotland (IRC) between now and the first weekend in October.

PROTON’s preparations for this intensive second half of the season have included further development work on the suspension and engine for the Satria – the car which has dominated this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, winning three from four rounds in the hands of Chris Atkinson.

The rally is based in the south-east of the Czech Republic and is always one of the most popular events of the season with drivers and spectators; thousands of fans from across Europe are expected to line the tricky asphalt stages running through the forests close to the city of Zlin. A treat for those fans will be the town centre superspecial stage on Friday evening. Run in the darkness, the 9.36-kilometre test is the rally’s atmospheric highlight.

Another fascinating element of this rally is the unpredictable weather conditions, with warm sunshine regularly giving way to heavy rain showers in a matter of minutes. The changeable weather makes grip levels notoriously tough to call – especially as the roads dive in and out of the tree cover.

The PROTON Motorsports team enjoyed a strong performance on this rally last year, with the Satria Neo posting times at the sharp end of the competition. The team will test for a day in the Czech Republic on Monday (August 22).

Quotes:
P-G Andersson said:
“The roads on this rally can be quite bumpy with some broken Tarmac, which is good for me – this kind of condition suits me quite well. I haven’t competed in Zlin before, but I have heard a lot about the rally. I’m looking forward to getting out there and driving again to chase a good result. It’s also nice to drive on a rally with a really good atmosphere. I think it’s going to be a great event. We have a test with the Satria on Monday, which will give us a good chance to see how the car is running after the team have been working on it some more.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“The most important thing is to find a good confidence in the car on the bumpy surface. Barum is not like a normal Tarmac rally, it is very specific. The bumps make finding the right set-up complicated so there is a lot of work to do with the dampers. But we have made a lot of progress in this area since switching to Reiger, and the test will help us find the right solution on Monday.  The roads in Zlin can be quite difficult when there is rain – under the trees it can be quite slippery. It’s important to make good pacenotes. I’ve done the rally three or four times and I like it. I remember some good times there.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“There’s no doubt that we are coming into a busy time for the team. We’ve used the last couple of weeks to really push forward the work on the car, focusing again on the engine and suspension, but now we’re fixed on the rallies ahead; five events in seven weeks is a full-on schedule. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate what the car can do – and continue the winning performances we’ve been putting in on the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The car showed some real pace on this rally 12 months ago and we’re looking forward to picking up where we left off in the Czech Republic.”

Event data
Round: 7/11, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Zlin, Czech Republic
Stages: 15
Surface: asphalt
Liaison distance: 371.25km
Competitive distance: 248.48km
Total distance: 619.73km
Pre-event press conference: 16th Floor, Building 21 (Friday August 26, 1500)
Post-event press conference: 16th Floor, Building 21  (Saturday August 28, 1700)
Time difference: Czech Republic is GMT+2hrs

Event timetable

Friday August 26
SS1 SSS Zlin (9.36km)                        2115

Saturday August 27
SS2 Biskupice 1 (8.89km)                0938
SS3 Pindula 1 (12.95km)                  1011
SS4 Trojak 1 (28.69km)                    1054
SS5 Semetin 1 (11.49km)                 1137
Service Otrokovice                            1337
SS6 Biskupice 2 (8.89km)               1500
SS7 Pindula 2(12.95km)                  1533
SS8 Trojak 2 (28.69km)                   1616
SS9 Semetin 2 (11.49km)                1659

Sunday August 28
SS10 Majak 1 (22.69km)                 0833
SS11 Kudlovice 1 (10.48km)         0921
SS12 Halenkovice 1 (24.37km)    0954
Service Otrokovice                           1104
SS13 Majak 2 (22.69km)                 1212
SS14 Kudlovice 2 (10.48km)         1300
SS15 Halenkovice 2 (24.37km)    1333
Finish Zlin                                             150

A preview of the Geko Ypres Rally

Fresh after their victory in the third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in New Caledonia, the PROTON boys are now headed north of the equator for the Geko Ypres Rally, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Swedish P-G Andersson and Italian Giandomenico Basso will be reunited with their Satria Neo S2000s for the all-asphalt Belgian classic. Two-time European Rally Champion, Basso is a former winner of the Geko Ypres Rally; Andersson will rely heavily on his team-mate’s knowledge as the double Junior World Rally Champion has never competed on the rally previously.

The Geko Ypres Rally is based around the town of Ypres in north-west Belgium. And, next week, that town is taken over by hundreds of thousands of rally fans from across the continent. The event is a true classic and an enormous challenge. Unlike any other asphalt rounds in the championship, the smooth Belgian roads slice their way through the farmland with only square corner after square corner likely to slow the speeding Satrias.

In a hectic, 30-hour schedule, Basso and Andersson will tackle a 649-kilometre route, including 18 stages that comprise 287 competitive kilometres.  What makes this event even tougher is the notoriously fickle weather and the fact that five of the stages will be run in fading light or complete darkness.

When the PROTONs arrive at the Grote Markt in the centre of Ypres at the end of Saturday, they will have completed one of rallying’s toughest tests.

And don’t forget, just six days earlier, Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae will have done the same thing on the earth’s other side.

Quotes:

P-G Andersson said:

“I have never done this rally before, but I have seen the stages and the number of people out there spectating is just incredible. I think we’re in for a rally with a lot of atmosphere! Unfortunately, I think it can be quite tough for drivers to go there without so much experience and try to win the rally; some of the roads are quite specialised. We showed last time in Ukraine that the team is making good progress with the car, the car is definitely getting quicker, and I’m sure we will continue to do the same in Belgium.”

Giandomenico Basso said:

“I’m looking forward to this event, I have won here before and it’s always a big challenge with a lot of really fast local drivers. The last rally we did [the PRIME Yalta Rally] with the car showed that we have made progress with the Satria. This is the good thing, the car is better and better, we are really improving. I want to come out and be fast in Ypres.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:

“Ypres is one of the biggest rallies in Europe and you always get a great welcome when you get over there. As a team, we’re looking to deliver on the promise we showed in Yalta; analysing the times, you can see that we’re right on the cusp with the car. We believe we have the right package to deliver a result in Ypres, we’ve certainly got the most talented drivers in P-G and Giandomenico. P-G’s right when he says it will be tough to go to that event for the first time, but he’s going to be able to get some good advice from Giandomenico, who has won in the past. But, before that next IRC round, we’re competing in New Caledonia in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship this weekend. Obviously, we’re eager to see what the boys can do on that event. It would be nice to go to Belgium on the back of a second APRC win of the year.”

As usual, stay tuned to our official Facebook page for live results and updates. Have a great week folks.

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.

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!

Recent rally updates and what’s to come

It’s been a while, my apologies to all faithful blog readers – I have been busy. But now that I’m back let’s recap on recent rallies and what’s coming up.

From San Remo to Scotland, the PROTON R3 Rally team is gearing up for a much needed victory. And as always, we are ever optimistic.

Rally of San Remo



The San Remo rally was held on 24th -25th September 2010. The PROTON R3 Rally Team included one of the most successful drivers in the history of the San Remo Rally in the Italian tarmac event.

Three-time San Remo winner Gilles Panizzi, formed the part of a two-car line-up with Niall McShea on the 10th round of the IRC.

The 44-year-old Panizzi has a wealth of experience both in World Rally Cars and Super 2000, where he developed one of the most successful cars in the category, and on the World Rally Championship, where he triumphed on seven WRC events between 2000 and 2003. The Frenchman was co-driven by Freddy Delorme.

Panizzi joined the team to give the squad the benefit of his experience on a rally that he has made his own, and to highlight areas where the Satria Neo S2000 can benefit from further development.

The 10th round of the IRC featured slippery tarmac, changeable weather, and tight corners, which all tested power, traction and grip. The event formed part of the World Rally Championship from 1973 to 2003, before being adopted by the IRC from 2006. San Remo is one of the most specialised tarmac rallies, where local experts traditionally dominate.

San Remo’s unpredictable weather saw conditions suddenly switching from dry and sunny to wet and slippery, giving teams plenty of problems with their tyre choices. Some 40 cars failed to cross the finish line. At the end of the rally, Panizzi kept up a good pace to finish at 18th place. Teammate McShea exited halfway due to seizure of his power steering.

The two Neo’s competed against the likes of established manufacturers Peugeot, Skoda, Ford and Honda.

Whats important is that the team was able to make more tremendous gains in terms of further developing the Satria Neo S2000 with the selected drivers’ wealth of experience and previous roles in developing rally vehicles.

What is it that people say? It ain’t over , it’s just the beginning. 🙂

You can visit our Facebook page for more pictures of the San Remo Rally.

Rally of Scotland

Rally of Scotland debuts this weekend as the 11th IRC round takes place. Die hard fans of the team would know that we finished second place last year. This year the team returns with Alister McRae and new recruit British Rally champion Keith Cronin.

The three-day rally will commence on Friday, 15th October and cover a total of 196.92km of competitive special stages. There will be two evening stages on Friday through the grounds of Scone Palace before the teams face the high-speed and fast-flowing special stages in the forests of Perthshire and Stirlingshire. The ceremonial finish will be at Stirling Castle on Sunday, 17th October.

The weather is predicted to influence the outcome of the event. The weather forecast for the weekend is brighter skies, meaning more grip for the drivers.

The team spent the previous week in Wales testing and developing the Satria Neo S2000 and preparing for the rally. Cronin will also have this time to familiarise himself even more with the car. Scotland will be his second outing with the neo, after his debut in Czech.

Young Tom Cave will also be entering the Scotland round as a privateer. He finished 8th overall in 2009. Read more about Tom Cave here.

So what are the expectations of the team? Having won the Scotland rally last year, returning to Scotland raises the expectations many have on PROTON. The team hopes to repeat or better last year’s performance.

Improvements have been made to the car and the team’s selected participation in the IRC this season is also more geared towards trying a lot of new things as well as driver combinations in preparation for a stronger assault in 2011.

Here’s to a good show this weekend! And we’ll be back with more updates.

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!*

Ypres Rally:You win some, you lose some


Yesterday’s final day at Ypres Rally saw all three of our cars retire at SS4 due to engine problems and were unable to continue with the rally. The team has already begun investigations into the root cause of the problem.

Rally Ypres was won by Belgian Freddy Loix in the Skoda Fabia S2000 21 seconds ahead of Jan Kopecky. His rival Kris Meeke crashed out and after that it was victory all the way for Fast Freddy. Third placing went to Peugeot’s Thierry Neuville.

Our team didn’t quite make it today but they did a good job as always, putting in a lot of effort, hard work and skill. In the world of rallying, nothing is predictable. Rallies take place on all surfaces and in all sorts of conditions. We’ve said this before, anything can happen in ralllies. That’s what makes it such a unique and interesting sport.

And as usual it was indeed a proud moment to see our team and cars compete globally. PROTON has certainly journeyed far and we look forward to Rally New Zealand with renewed spirit.