Category Archives: Rally New Zealand
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.
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!
“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.”
“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.”
His thoughts on the APRC and recently concluded Rally Hokkaido:
“For sure it’s not a great start of the season but we’ll stay positive and we really enjoy it because the car is really good fun to drive. The car was working perfectly with the exception of the engine that resulted from yesterday which may have damaged it. It looks a tad challenging for the championships as we don’t have as much points after the two rallies as compared to others but we’re positive because we enjoy driving this car and working with the team. All the mechanics and people involved did a great job, and they managed to fix the car when it was in a bad condition and made it on time which is a great thing.
The next rally will probably be on the best rally roads in the world. New Zealand is always a rally that everyone likes; even with world championship drivers so we’re looking forward to Rally New Zealand. We’ll be driving in Belgium a week before New Zealand. I’m from Belgium, so I’m really proud to drive there with Chris in front of all the Belgian people and it’s also Chris’ first time driving there. We are really looking forward to New Zealand; we’re positive that have a good chance to win, we’ll have a lot of fun driving there and as I said earlier, the roads are the best in the world!”