PROTON MOUNTS OVERALL AND 2WD ASSAULT IN RALLY QUEENSLAND (26 & 27 May 2012)

Round three of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) will move to the 2012 International Rally of Queensland this weekend with PROTON Motorsports fielding an assault in both the overall and two-wheel drive (2WD) categories.

Leading the team’s overall challenge will be the pair of defending APRC championship Alister McRae and Swedish driver PG Andersson on board the Satria Neo S2000.

PG Andersson and Emil Axelsson  

Alister McRae and Bill Hayes

McRae returns to the grueling Australian rally having finished fourth last year, while for Andersson, this weekend’s three-day event will be his first time out down under after an inspiring start to his APRC debut.

Rally Queensland will be run over a total distance of 863km consisting of 19 special stages. The longest special stage is some 33.25km while the shortest measures just 2km.

“With two rounds of the APRC contested, we have endured nothing short of a challenging start to the season. While the Proton Satria Neo S2000 has clearly demonstrated it possesses the pace and reliability, we have been rather unfortunate with punctures as was the case in the Rallies of Whangarei and New Caledonia,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the head of PROTON Motorsports.

PROTON had clinched second place with Andersson in Rally Whangarei but despite both Andersson and McRae’s demonstrating incredible pace in the Satria Neo S2000, did not go on to secure an overall position in New Caledonia as a result of retirements.

“We finished fourth in the Rally of Queensland last year, again as a result of a difficult first few days. It’s a very tough event and one that will require not only preparation and pace, but good fortune as well,” said Datuk Abdul Razak.

“Having said this, PROTON did however, enjoy a triumphant rally with its 1600cc Proton Satria Neo two-wheel drive cars in Australia last year, clinching first and second places in the 2WD category, This year, we’re back with three entries and will be gunning for even better results.”

Karamjit Singh and kenneth Koh both in 2WD category

Out to defend his title in Australia will be reigning 2WD APRC champion Karamjit Singh and defending APRC Junior champion Akira Bamba in the PROTON Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos. The pair will be joined by a third driver, Kenneth Koh.

PROTON has so far enjoyed a brilliant start in its 2012 2WD campaign, when it clinched the top three places in the opening round of the APRC in New Zealand in April. Karamjit won the class ahead of another Proton car privateer with Koh finishing third. Koh, in only his first international rally, also clinched second place in the APRC Junior category.

“It’s been a whirlwind start to the year so far with mixed results and emotions. This is the unpredictable nature of rallying. Proton however, is committed to do better and will preserve for excellence in Queensland. By virtue of being defending champions in both the overall and 2WD categories, we accept the fact that the competition this season will be even stiffer. As we advance to round three in the championship, we are very clear in our objectives and the preparation ahead of the rally for both the S2000 and 2WD teams reflects on fulfilling these goals,” said PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports John Chacko.

PROTON R3 DUO THE PAIR TO BEAT AT MSS ROUND 2

 

Proton R3 Team will be back in MSS Round 2 this weekend (25-27 May 2012)

The PROTON R3 Racing Team rejoins round 2 of the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) in Sepang International Circuit this weekend as clear favourites in the Malaysian Touring Car Championship after clinching back to back race victories in the opening round of the season.

Setting a blistering pace in Class 2 for production cars up to 1600cc, young drivers Syafiq Ali and James Veerappan in the 1600cc R3 Satria Neo have clearly underlined that they will be the pair to beat this weekend.

Both Syafiq and Veerapan have one race win each to their tally when they went on to win both 9-lap races in March held in conjunction with the Petronas Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.

“We have two very talented, incredibly fast, committed and focused drivers in Syafiq and Veerapan. Round 1 clearly demonstrated their strong desire to win and as a team, they both work in unison to accomplish these goals,” said Team Principal Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel.

Unlike Round 1 however, this weekend’s race will see the new format of the 2012 Malaysian Touring Car Championship being implemented which will require both drivers teaming up for a one-hour race that includes a compulsory pit stop and driver change.

“Consistency in pace will be extremely important this weekend and both drivers have been putting in a lot of work to achieving competitive times. We have also made further improvements to the Satria Neo in keeping with the new format of endurance racing.”

Already proven on track and in gruelling competition such as rallying, the 1600cc two-wheel drive Satria Neo brings not only exceptional reliability and handling to the race this weekend, but also race-winning performance.

“The new format of the 2012 Malaysian Touring Car Championship is an exciting one which promotes on-track competition to a new and higher level, extracting not only the very best performance from a vehicle but an important step towards developing a greater pool of even competitive and talented local drivers,” said Head of PROTON Motorsports Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood.

Meanwhile, PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports John Chacko said the 2012 Malaysian Touring Car Championship provided an ideal platform to showcase the engineering prowess of R3 which is the company’s motorsports division.

“Research and development, underlined by accomplishments on the track translate into the introduction of performance-driven production models, and this is a further manifestation of PROTON’s commitment to be better and even more competitive as a car manufacturer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S2000 rally car in Rally New Caledonia

PROTON ON TRACK IN RALLY NEW CALEDONIA

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

Alister McRae in Rally New Caledonia 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About PROTON

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

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

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

KICK START ON OPENING DAY IN RALLY NEW CALEDONIA

PROTON’s PG Andersson enjoyed an inspiring opening day by emerging fastest throughout the first four special stages in Rally New Caledonia.

Andersson won three of the day’s four special stages, stamping his authority from the first 16.8km “Gadji” special stage to finish 1.6 seconds ahead of the two Skoda Fabia S2000s of Chris Atkinson and Gaurav Gill, with PROTON team mate Alister McRae in fourth place.

 

Andersson was quickest in the Satria Neo S2000 as he swept through the longest special stage of the day, a tricky section with many twisty uphill as well as downhill sections.

 

In special stage 2, Andersson was a clear three seconds faster than Atkinson, completing the run in a time of 10 min:15.7 seconds.

 

McRae however, was forced to bow out after special stage 2 as a result of damage to his car. He managed to drive the Satria Neo S2000 out of the stage but with a 25km drive and two special stages to go, the damage was too extensive for him to continue. McRae will restart Leg 2 under the Super Rally format.

 

“We were flat out and on the attack modefrom the start. The stages are incredibly exciting and the car felt unbelievably fast and planted through the twisty stages,” said Andersson who in special stages 3 again clocked the fastest time ahead of Atkinson.

 

The Swedish driver however, missed out on making a clean sweep of the day’s four special stages finishing three seconds adrift of the Skodas of Gill who was fastest and Atkinson.

 

PROTON is looking to establish back to back victory in New Caledonia having won the rally last year.

 

Rally New Caledonia runs through beautiful lush vegetation and farming plains, and will be contested over a competitive distance of 252.82km covering 19 special stages.

 

Leg 2 of the rally continues with another nine special stages while the third and the final day of rallying will involve six special stages including the longest which is a 24.41km charge through Pirogues Almameto.

 

“Andersson has adapted very well to the rally considering this is his first appearance in New Caledonia. The competition is definitely intense this time round and with two more days of rallying it will really be down to the individual with the right strategy and the ability to pace himself to the finish,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

 

“We have a competitive package coming to New Caledonia and we believe we are in good contention for a podium.”

Upcoming APRC New Caledonia (28-29 April 2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROTON RALLIES TO A PODIUM FINISH IN RALLY OF WHANGAREI, NEW ZEALAND

PROTON’s PG Andersson drove to a commendable Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) debut to clinch second overall in the Brother International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand.

Fighting back to reduce an overnight deficit of more than a minute as a result of a puncture, Andersson set fastest time on five of the final day’s eight special stages to finish second overall 28 seconds behind the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Chris Atkinson. A further two minutes behind was India’s Gaurav Gill in third place.

PG Andersson and Emil Axelsson secured second place in APRC New Zealand

PROTON team mate and defending APRC champion Alister McRae meanwhile, finished fourth in the APRC class and fourth overall after enduring a difficult start to the rally in which by virtue of starting first played the role of road sweeper for the rest of the participants.

Andersson’s APRC campaign on the other hand had gotten off to a brilliant start when he was fastest through special stage 1. He however had a puncture in the next stage which lost him a minute and a half and demoting him to fourth in the APRC category. He however, fought back valiantly to finish the day in second place among the APRC contenders.

Rally of Whangarei covered a total of 16 special stages over a competitive distance of 283.28km.

PROTON also enjoyed a clean sweep of the top three placings in the 2WD category with defending APRC 2WD champion Karamjit Singh taking top honours ahead of privateer Mike Young in another 1600cc Satria Neo and PROTON’s newly-signed young driver Kenneth Koh. Koh, in only his first international rally, also clinched second place in the APRC Junior category behind Young.

Proton 2WD rally car drove by Malaysian professional driver Karamjit Singh 

“To have both Andersson and McRae on the podium (in the APRC class) in the presence of intense competition, especially from the field of experienced local drivers, is an encouraging start to the season. We have the pace but in this case, we were a bit unfortunate to have been held back by punctures,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

“It’s going to be a close fight for this year’s APRC Championship. I have full confidence in the team with Andersson and McRae to defend the APRC title which we won in 2011.

“PROTON’s performance is the 2WD class however, has indeed been a huge step forward.  The participation of three privately-run 1600cc Satria Neos meanwhile, is a great boost for PROTON and in recognition of the vehicle’s competitiveness.”

Young driver of Kenneth Koh and Jagdiv Singh in 2WD category at Rally of Whangarei

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

Meanwhile, PROTON’s Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports John Chacko said the participation of privately-run 1600cc Satria Neos underlined a strong and growing acceptance for the brand internationally.

“This is a tremendous boost in support of PROTON’s aspirations of becoming a competitive global car manufacturer.  As a manufacturer we are committed to be better and the results in New Zealand certainly goes a long way in proving this point.

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

Proton S2000 – start ramp at APRC New Zealand 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proton S2000 with the crowds at Whangarei

Kemenangan demi kemenangan dalam Pusingan 1 MSS baru-baru ini telah berjaya meletakkan nama Pasukan Lumba PROTON R3 di kedudukan teratas dalam Kejohanan ‘Touring Car’ Malaysia Kelas 2 bagi pengeluaran kereta melebihi 1600 cc.

R3, iaitu bahagian Proton Motorsports juga telah menjadi satu kuasa yang berperanan sebagai pemangkin dalam membangunkan serta mengembangkan seluruh potensi Satria Neo, bukan sahaja di litar malahan juga dari segi prestasinya di jalan raya.

Proton Satria Neo hebat beraksi di Litar  Antarabangsa Sepang

Pelumba-pelumba muda Syafiq Ali dan James Veerappan yang telah mempamerkan aksi hebat dalam Satria Neo sepanjang hujung minggu itu telah memberikan saingan yang luar biasa kepada pelumba-pelumba pasukan lain di  MSS 2012.

Pusingan 1 MSS dijalankan sebagai perlumbaan sokongan sempena Kejohanan F1 Grand Prix Petronas Malaysia yang berlangsung pada tarikh yang sama.

Perlumbaan berlangsung di hadapan kira-kira 10,000 penonton yang menghadiri  F1 Grand Prix pada hujung minggu selama 3 hari di Litar Antarabangsa Sepang, Syafiq Ali dan James Veerappan masing-masing mendominasi perlumbaan ini.

Pemandu PROTON R3 -James Veerappan (kiri) & Syafiq Ali (kanan)

PROTON R3 pantas di hadapan

Perlumbaan pertama (9 pusingan) yang berlangsung sebagai pembuka tirai perlumbaan telah menobatkan Syafiq Ali sebagai juara dalam kategori ini, mendahului pelumba Sutan Muzaffar di tempat ke-2 dan Ahmad Faizry di tempat ke-3. Syafiq juga telah berjaya menamatkan perlumbaan di tempat ke-4 secara keseluruhan.

Syafiq Ali – Juara perlumbaan pertama (9 pusingan)

Pada hari berikutnya,  Veerappan beroleh kejayaan dalam perlumbaan kedua (9 pusingan) yang bermula pada petak ke -4 di grid permulaan . Beliau telah mencatatkan masa terpantas iaitu 36 saat jauh di hadapan, sekaligus menjadi juara bagi kategori ini. Pelumba Abu Bakar Fitri dari Pasukan Tedco Racing menakluki tempat ke-2, manakala tempat ke-3 dimenangi oleh Kok Pak Chiang yang hanya ketinggalan 2 saat dibelakang.

James Veerappan – Juara perlumbaan kedua (9 pusingan)

Pada tahun 2011, PROTON R3 bukan sahaja juara keseluruhan bagi kategori Kelas 2 dalam Kejohanan ‘Touring Car’ 2011, tetapi juga memperolehi tempat kedua.

Johan – Pasukan PROTON R3

Berbeza daripada musim lepas, Kejohanan ‘Touring Car’ Malaysia 2012 akan menggunakan format baru, di  mana 1 jam perlumbaan termasuk  1 ‘pit stop’ yang diwajibkan serta 2 pemandu bagi setiap kereta yang bersaing.

PROTON R3 DUO DOMINATES ROUND 1 OF MSS

Back to back race victories in round 1 of the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) currently places the Proton R3 Racing Team on top of the Malaysian Touring Car Championship in Class 2 for production cars up to 1600cc.

PROTON R3 drivers – from right: Syafiq Ali (Race 1 on Saturday) and James Veerappan (Race 2 on Sunday)

Young drivers Syafiq Ali and James Veerappan set a blistering pace in the Satria Neo over the weekend to give the team’s 2012 MSS campaign a tremendous boost.

Round 1 of the MSS was run as two support races in conjunction with the Petronas Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.

Driving to victory in front of some 100,000 spectators who attended Grand Prix over the three-day weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, Syafiq and Veerappan were in dominant form.

Syafiq won the curtain-raiser 9-lap race on Saturday finishing first in class ahead of drivers Sutan Mustaffa and Ahmad Faizry. He also finished the race fourth overall.

Veerappan meanwhile, secured victory in the second 9-lap race on Sunday from fourth position on the starting grid, finishing an unassailable 36 seconds ahead of second place winner Abu Bakar Fitri with Kok Pak Chiang a further two seconds behind.

1st Place in Malaysian Touring Car 1.6 category 

“Both drivers were incredibly fast over the weekend. It’s an excellent season-opener result and we look forward to keeping this strong momentum going throughout the year. The objective of course, will be to successfully defend the championship we won last year,” said Team Principal Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel.

PROTON not only won Class 2 of the Malaysian Touring Car Championship in 2011 but also secured second place.

Unlike last season however, the 2012 Malaysian Touring Car Championship will be run under a new format as a one-hour race with a compulsory pit stop and each car must have two drivers.

Supporting team members of PROTON R3

“We have a good driver combination in Syafiq and Veerappan who bring a new level of pace, technical knowledge, maturity as well as enthusiasm into the team and this is an incredibly huge motivating factor,” said Head of PROTON Motorsports Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood.