Category Archives: Malaysian Rally

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.

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


Malaysian Rally : Day 2 & still kicking!

Beautiful jump by Chris

Great results today! Though it was a treacherous day for the team as Day 2 proved to be tough and temperamental. With the weather being as hot as ever at 32 degrees celcius all week, in came a heavy downpour hours before the start of the rally’s seven special stages. So from dry to dusty, the team were faced with a muddy and slippery journey instead. And the terrain seemed unpredictable because of the change in weather and conditions.

Yet the team pushed through, Chris is current first overall and Alister comes in third. Great job, guys!

Chris and his Neo led from the start of special stage 2, with a four-second advantage over Alister at the end of the 32.30km charge at the Tai-Tak Plantation in Kota Tinggi. By the following 24.49km special stage 3, Chris’ lead had grown to 37.8 seconds ahead of MRF’s Gaurav Gill in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, while Alister was forced to reduce his pace to contain an overheating problem. The problem, which cost him more than four minutes, was later resolved and was found to be caused by debris and vegetation blocking the air path to the radiator through the front bumper grille.

Leaving nothing to chance, the team service crew had replaced a slightly worn right rear driveshaft on Chris’s Neo within nine minutes at the first service interval. Rejoining the rally after the first service interval, Chris stretched his lead to 1 minute 17.4 seconds in special stage 5 which was a repeat run of the 32.30km Tai-Tak special stage. He gained another three seconds in special stage 6, 24 seconds in special stage 7, but conceded four seconds in the final’s day’s 2.5km super special stage to go into the third and final day of the rally with a 1 minute 40.4 seconds lead over Gaurav. Alister at third, and second in the Asia Cup category.

In terms of casualties, ex-APRC champion Cody Crocker fell short of luck after going off the road. Other casualties included Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi, Pertamina Cusco Racing’s Rifat Sungkar and team mate Yuya Sumiyama, former British rally champion Mark Higgins and Malaysian driver Saladin Mazlan – all behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Well known Karamjit Singh in his Lancer Evo 9 also fell out due to a mechanical problem.

All in all Day 2 eliminated seven of the top seeded drivers.

Our pretty boys at team PROTON Cusco Rally Team in the 1600cc Satria Neo also enjoyed a good run today, with Akira Bamba running high in eighth overall as the fastest 1600cc two-wheel drive entry, leading the APRC Junior Cup category. Team mate Kosuke Takashino meanwhile, is currently placed ninth overall.

Tomorrow is the the third and final day of the Malaysian Rally. The final day will be run over seven special stages totaling 79.80km.

With determination coupled with a solid drive and performance from the team, PROTON is aiming for a podium finish tomorrow and we’re positive the team will make it. 🙂

Malaysian Rally: Day 1 Recap

Hola! How’s the weekend going? Relaxing, we hope.

So day 1 of the Malaysian Rally went well for the team yesterday, with the two Neos showing a good performance on a competitive opening day which saw the top six registered competitors separated by a difference of only one second.

Alister completed the 2.5km super special stage for spectators at the Angsana Shoping Complex in a time of 2 mins and 0.25 seconds to secure a second place finish, 0.4 seconds short of current rally leader Rifat Sungkar in a Mitsubishi Evolution X. Chris ended up in the top five to deny an all-Mitsubishi front row.

Alister’s result also places him second in the Asia Cup category.

As for the PROTON Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos, they managed an inspiring debut, with Akira Bamba finishing at 11th place, 20 seconds behind top APRC contenders, but leading the APRC Junior Cup category ahead of team mate Kosuke Takashino.

Tis’ a strong start for PROTON indeed with the four Neos occupying the top positions in their classes. It goes to show that the Neo is back with a mission, newly-charged and competitive as ever.

On another note, if you didn’t already know, of the total 35 entries in the Malaysian rally, 18 cars are Protons, with 12 cars competing for APRC points. That’s pretty cool, seeing so many of our cars out there. If you happen to be in JB go check out the buzz at the Malaysian Rally. Also, there’s a PROTON display of its current models at the Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre now till Sunday, 3rd April. That’s tomorrow, folks so come visit us soon there 🙂

Day 2 takes place today, and involves seven special stages, with another seven special stages being run on the third and final day. The real test of the rally starts right now at the Tai Tak estate with a long 32.3km stage at 9.23am. All the best to our drivers, we’re hoping for a great performance today.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the latest results and updates. Catch you later.

Lucky fans with Chris and Alister at Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre. Catch Proton's display of it's current models there till Sunday, 3rd April.

Malaysian Rally: Shakedown & Weekend Ahead

Shakedown took place yesterday, at the Plaza Angsana. Check out some of the action below.

Service tent

To view the entire Shakedown album, click here.

A few more hours to go before the start of the Malaysian Rally. The action starts today, with a Special Stage Race over a 2.5km purpose built track at the Plaza Angsana Johore Bahru before the real race begins at the Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi over the weekend.

Day 2 of the rally will involve seven special stages, with another seven special stages being run on the third and final day.

Alister, who led the Malaysian Rally last year until his Neo was severely damaged in a jump, is confident and ready to claim victory this time around. Both our drivers Alister and Chris expect the Neo to put on a much more charged up performance this weekend in front of the home crowd, their cars equipped with an entirely new suspension set-up as well as engine enhancements.

Chris expects the change in suspension will give the team greater confidence and better traction while revisions to the engine will provide more horsepower and offer consistent torque throughout the rev range. He believes the improvements will lead to a much better flow and natural feel overall.

The Malaysian Rally has attracted a total of 38 entries, with 11 cars competing for APRC points.

Now let’s check out the competition. There’s four time APRC overall winner Cody Crocker for the GSR Pennzoil Team in a Subaru Impreza, Katsu Taguchi of Japan of course, defending champion of the Malaysian leg of the APRC in his Mitsubishi Evo XI, Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya, the defending Malaysian Rally champion in the Subaru Impreza and the famous Karamjit Singh in his new Mitsubishi Evo, all geared up to win this season after his loss last year.

Despite the impressive competitor lineup, our team is confident and setting its sight on gaining victory on home ground, with the newly-charged cars ready for a more dominant performance.

With rallies, you never know what lies ahead and what to expect in each race. So we wish all the teams competing in the Malaysian Rally 2011 the best of luck and may the best team win!

As always, stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates on team performance and results, including photos from the rally.

PROTON kickstarts 2011 campaign & the rallying begins!

Early this week, the official launch of PROTON’s 2011 rally campaign took place and the event was officiated by Deputy Minister of Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato’ Dr. James Dawos Mamit. At the launch, the Deputy Minister handed the symbolic ‘Jalur Gemilang’ (Malaysian flag) to the team. And with that, the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally team will begin their new season of rallying for this year.

Malaysian Deputy Minister of Tourism hands the Malaysian Flag to PROTON Managing Director, Dato' Seri Syed Zainal


The PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally team & management

PROTON is looking to start the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) campaign on a high note with a strong finish at the season-opener Rally of Malaysia which begins this weekend. And the two S2000 cars will be driven by Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson.

If you remember last year’s Malaysian rally, we had the same drivers with us, both also being former World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers.

They were with PROTON throughout the 2010 season, with the team finishing second place in the APRC Manufacturer’s Championship and best finish being a 1-2 victory in the APRC category at the China Rally.

As most of our diehard fans are already aware, the Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car had benefitted from an entire year devoted to testing and development; allowing the team to gain tremendous improvements in terms of power, performance and reliability. Now all that’s left is to prove that our yellow superstar is also a championship-winning contender.

The Malaysian rally is known as one of the most challenging and rough rallies on the APRC calendar but the team is positive of their performance this time around and hopes to have a strong finish. We have high hopes for them too this time around.

More exciting news, this season of APRC also brings in the entry of several Group N Satria Neo 1600cc rally cars. The cars have been jointly-developed by PROTON and renowned Japanese tuner CUSCO, and are being sold to competitors in Japan taking part in both the APRC and Japanese Junior Rally Championship. Check out the pic below, simply lovely! We’re talking about the cars, of course ;p

PROTON Cusco Rally Team, Satria Neo 1.6 Group N rally car

Stick with us over the next few days, because updates from the Malaysian Rally 2011 will be posted throughout the event. Also do check out our Facebook page for up to date team performance and results and see exclusive photos of the Satria Neo S2000@the Malaysian rally and team in action both during the race and behind the scenes.

More pictures of the launch here. Later, gators!

PROTON Motorsports@Kuala Lumpur Rally Day 2011

We were at the Kuala Lumpur Rally Day recently, held to promote interest in rally and as a promotional gig for the upcoming Malaysian Rally. The convoy began at Section 13 in Petaling Jaya and headed for the Golden Triangle, passing the routes of Jalan Ampang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Telawi and Jalan Gelenggang.

The Pennzoil GSR and MRU Motorsports rally teams were among the other teams participating in the event, and they brought out their cars in full force, including the Subaru Impreza WRX, Peugeot 206, and of course we brought our attention grabbing superstars – the Proton Satria Neo 1.6 and Proton Satria Neo S2000. A big shoutout to all our fans who came to support us, THANK YOU!

Check out some fab pictures of our fans below:

Last year, we didn’t win the Malaysian round, but the team didn’t go unnoticed. They set a very good pace and this year we’re hoping to make it to a podium finish. And we’re positive that it will happen.

Nine teams from around the region will be participating in the opening round of the APRC 2011, which forms part of the 2011 Malaysian Rally Championship. The Malaysian Rally is happening at the Plaza Angsana Johor Baru and Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi from 1-4 April 2011.

Coming up really soon, so stay tuned. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team – Final day recap

The unofficial results aren’t out yet and we’re all at the media centre still. It will be a late dinner tonight but I guess all of us on the working committee and the team included will be able to have a good rest.

Anway, we’re sure some of you have already gone to the APRC site and seen the unofficial results, but for those who don’t here’s the link.

As we all know, with McRae leading the rally by 27 secs, the team started out strong on the 1st day of the rally. That same day, Atkinson suffered an electrical fault in special stage 1(SS1) that saw him lose 18 mins and dropping to the last position.  He fought hard to end the day in 4th overall placing.

McRae started leg 2 exactly where he left off by winning the first stage of the day, and 2nd fastest in the 2nd stage, fighting hard with Taguchi’s Mitsubishi Evolution 10.

Unfortunately for McRae, the radiator was damaged after a jump which led to the engine failing at the start of SS12 leaving the sole Proton Satria Neo S2000 driven by Atkinson still running in the race.  With the retirement of McRae, Atkinson was promoted to 3rd overall.

The team once again faced a setback when the same electrical fault from day 1 occurred again causing Atkinson to lose out on yet more time. This effectively ended all our hopes for a podium finish.

Though we didn’t win, but we saw a good performance from our guys and our car. We’re very encouraged by the pace of both our drivers and the cars. And our team is already looking forward to the next round in Hokkaido Japan on 22-23 May.

So to McRae, Hayes, Atkinson and Prevot, well done and since you guys will be home with your families very soon, we wish you a safe journey and you’ll now be able to get some well deserved rest…:)

And to all the winners, congratulations and hope you guys have a good celebration tonight!

Malaysia Rally Day 2 – It’s about strength, but above all… spirit

It’s Day 2 of the rally. My colleagues woke at the crack of dawn. No wait. Yours truly had to wake them up at the crack of dawn!! Then a quick breakfast at the hotel lobby and off to Saujana it was for Rally Day 2.

Feeding me info from site, I find out that it’s a wet morning over there. My favourite friend McRae (Sorry Bill, you’re now in second place…:p) who was leading yesterday did SS9 and  SS10 with impressive timing.  Then disaster struck as he was revving to launch. All of a sudden the engine died followed by smoke from the engine compartment. And so we sadly watched McRae retire from the race due to a damaged radiator that caused the engine to fail just before SS11. At SS10, McRae took a big jump and when the car landed the impact caused damage to the radiator. This is after all motorsports, everything being pushed to it’s limits and all.

And we’re proud of McRae’s achievements, because despite everything, he finished the Special Stages in the fastest time among all the other drivers…:-)

So we now wait in hope for Atkinson, who at the time this post was written, is in 3rd position. And of course, keeping the Malaysian flag flying high on a Sunday morning.

I’ll be back later with more updates. Meanwhile, we leave you with a picture of Bill looking dramatic…:D


The Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team – Day 1 Recaps


Day 1 of the Rally Malaysia APRC Round 1 Johor is over, and at the end of Day 1, McRae was leading the rally. It was an exciting day for the Malaysia R3 Rally Team, with our boys scoring some pretty good results.

The weather was hot and dry throughout the day except for a sudden downpour in the final Special Stages 2 which caught the drivers offguard as they were on dry tyres. Atkinson suffered an electrical problem in his car at stage 1 and lost 18 minutes but he more than made up for it.

And by now you’d have already known the results for Day 1. If you haven’t then click here.

The Four drivers who retired on day 1; were Karamjit Singh at stage 1 due to suspension problems, Yayu Sumiyama who off-shot an intersection, while his team-mate Hiroshi Yanagisawa hit a tree resulting in extensive damage. Yanagisawa made it to the end of Stage 4, but retired soon after.  Final driver to retire was Tomohide Hasegawa at stage 7 when he got stuck in a drain.

Nevertheless, kudos to all the drivers for putting on a good race. The ‘retirees’ restart again today so we will see more action …:)

3 teams retired at Day 1 of the Malaysian Rally Championship

Here’s the official list of retired teams from the Malaysian Rally Championship on day 1 of the race.