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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.

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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!

Rally of China: This is what the journey is all about


We won, guys! After all the hard work, and well deserved too. PROTON takes first and second placing at the APRC 2010 and also second and third placing for the Asia Cup. Overall the team came out second for the Manufacturer’s Championship. PROTON is now ahead of Subaru and behind Mitsubishi in the APRC Manufacturers Title.

Indeed, as quoted by one of our fans, the team saved the best for last!

Alister McRae took the podium at first and Chris Atkinson at second for the APRC while Alister takes second and Chris third at the podium for the Asia Cup. Alister is currently also at third placing for the APRC Driver’s Title.

An excellent outcome for PROTON’s first full season competing in the championship what with all the bad luck we’ve had this season; and finally emerging victorious.

Alister and Bill

Chris and Ben

A recap of the China Rally, Leg 1 of the China Rally covered a total of nine special stages over 146km. After a short 1.82km super special stage for spectators on Friday, the rally continued on Saturday with eight special stages run through the mountainous region and bamboo forests just outside of Longyou city which combined both gravel and tarmac stages.

Leading the rally on Day 1, Alister was forced to concede his position for second place in the penultimate 25.53km special stage – the longest in the rally – after his Satria NEO S2000 suffered a puncture. Chris endured two punctures on the same stage which was repeated three times throughout the day to settle for third.

Leg 2 of the China Rally took place over six difficult, long and rough special stages covering a combined distance of 83.7km.The highlight of the third and final day was a grueling 16.35km charge over the rocky mountainous region of San Men Yuan dubbed by rally drivers as the stage with a hundred hairpin turns. It also included high-speed charge along a newly-introduced 12.27km all-tarmac special stage which was repeated twice throughout the day.

On Day 2 and restarting the rally almost two minutes down on Cusco Racing’s Hiroshi Yanagisawa and in second position, Alister wasted no time piling on the pressure to set the fastest stage time of 18 minutes 40.1 seconds in the 16.35km special stage 10. Halfway through the narrow and rough ascent, both Chris and Alister passed Yanagisawa’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X that was forced into retirement with mechanical problems. The day ended on a happy note for both drivers when they secured the podium finishes.

Alister’s comments below aptly summarizes the whole season of PROTON’s participation in rallying:

“This is definitely a great result for both PROTON and us. I’ve said it all year long that the Proton Satria Neo S2000 is capable of winning rallies and being on the podium but we have just experienced so much of bad luck throughout the season…To finally prove it in this rally with a one-two finish is just fantastic.”

We are happy for the team and a big round of congratulations to all who made this happen with the blood, sweat and tears. They never gave up.

A special shout out to all our fans from all over the world, who have loyally stood by us and had faith that PROTON would make it! We’ve come a long way in our journey and will continue to strive for excellence.

There are loads of videos and albums of the Rally of China 2010 so do visit our Facebook page here.

Rally of China : There are no Panda Bears in Longyou


Image courtesy of Google Images

Darn it… was hoping that we could smuggle one of those cute little fellows home… 🙂

Today is the day before the Rally of China. As you may have read, we blogged a preview on the rally here.

So what will be happening in the next few days? As we write this, shakedown is already over. More updates and pictures later as we progress through the event.

This year’s rally will be run over 15 special stages with a combined distance of 229.99km over two days. The rally begins with a 1.82km super special stage for the benefit of spectators after the ceremonial start before proceeding to Leg 1 the following day which will consist of 8 special stages. The third and final day will see competitors battling another 6 special stages.

Stage 1 of the Rally begins at 230pm (China time) tomorrow.

The weather is currently dry, but cool with a lot of haze. It seems that the forecast is that the current conditions will continue throughout the rally period.

We know that currently the stages are in good condition. There is a high percentage of concrete roads that may be slippery at the first pass, as there is a fine dust and sometimes gravel on top so it will be challenging. And an interesting watch.

And so ladies and gents, the stage is all set for the battle. Our drivers are all geared to go. McRae and Hayes, and the brothers Atkinson must be very excited and hopeful as season 2010 ends and so are we as we all pray hard that they do well and claim a podium finish.

We will be back tomorrow. Till then, zài jiàn (that’s goodbye in Mandarin)… 🙂

Television Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESPN STAR Sports – Asia

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

STAR Sport China

SUN 19-Sep-10 15:00:00

MON 20-Sep-10 3:00:00

MON 20-Sep-10 8:00:00

THU 23-Sep-10 20:30:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sport HK

SAT 18-Sep-10 16:30:00

SUN 19-Sep-10 1:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 3:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 8:00:00

TUE 21-Sep-10 15:00:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sports India

FRI 24-Sep-10 22:30:00

SAT 25-Sep-10 12:00:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sports Malaysia

FRI 17-Sep-10 22:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 3:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 12:30:00

MON 20-Sep-10 13:00:00

———————————————————————————-

STAR Sports SEA

FRI 17-Sep-10 22:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 3:00:00

SAT 18-Sep-10 12:30:00

MON 20-Sep-10 13:00:00

————————————————————————————

STAR Sports TW

SAT 18-Sep-10 2:00:00

————————————————————————————

MOTORS TV – France

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:52:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:52:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 10:06:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 18:27:00

84260 WED 29 September 2010 15:48:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 21:00:00

———————————————————————————–

MOTORS TV – Europe

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:18:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:42:00

84260 SAT 25 September 2010 04:23:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 19:40:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 01:27:00

84260 MON 27 September 2010 10:27:00

84260 TUES 28 September 2010 14:26:00

84260 TUES 28 September 2010 01:19:00

84260 WED 29 September 2010 18:18:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 15:01:00

84260 FRI 1 October 2010 05:16:00

84260 WED 6 October 2010 23:10:00

———————————————————————————–

MOTORS TV UNITED KINGDOM

Episode 2 – New Zealand and Australia Rounds

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 22:53:00

84260 FRI 24 September 2010 05:30:00

84260 SUN 26 September 2010 00:35:00

84260 MON 27 September 2010 10:00:00

84260 THUR 30 September 2010 15:00:00

84260 FRI 1 October 2010 05:02:00

84260 WED 6 October 2010 23:58:00

—————————————————————————————

FOX Sports – Australia

Episode 1 – Malaysia/Japan

16 September 2010 – 17:00 Fox 1

17 September 2010 – 07:00 Fox 2

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

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

Incredible performance of the Neo in Czech

The PROTON team in Czech has ample reason to hold their heads up high at the recently concluded Rally Barum Czech Zlin. The dynamic duo of Niall McShea and Keith Cronin in the Satria Neo S2000 demonstrated impressive speed under extreme conditions, making waves by being among the fastest performers in the rally.

Dubbed one of the most demanding rallies in Europe, the Czech Rally concluded with the final stage on Saturday, with Freddy Loix and his Skoda coming out tops. Rally Barum Czech Zlin began 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 began the next day, when crews faced eight asphalt stages in the fast but technical lanes surrounding Zlin. The event ended Sunday, 29 August 2010 with a further eight stages.

For the PROTON team, pre-event testing ran smoothly under sunny conditions, but the actual rally day itself subjected them to very slippery conditions due to the change in weather – with heavy rains. Cronin was faster that Jan Kopecky during the first stage, only 3.8 seconds behind the fastest time. Cronin’s amazing performance ended when he slid off the road at an exit of a long corner, went off the road and dropped down a bank, landing close to a river. And with that he was out of the rally.  Moving at such high speeds, it’s a well known fact that crashes are an inevitable occurrence in races and that’s what happened with Cronin.  Nevertheless, he did leave an impression, setting fifth and seventh best time before his exit. Meanwhile, teammate Niall McShea and his PROTON also set an impressive pace but stopped one stage after Cronin’s retirement. McShea decided to stop when he detected a mechanical fault – nose in the car’s bellhousing.

McShea and Cronin are are among the best talents around with experience and skill in handling tarmac events. McShea’s last outing was with PROTON at the 2009 Rally of Ireland where he achieved third fastest time on the opening stage. 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 them further improve the PROTON S2000 for tarmac events.

It wasn’t a win, but the team did come close to beating our competitiors. At the end of the day, the Satria’s abilities were further reinforced as demonstrated in an incredible performance in one the most challenging rally conditions by far.

Rally Indonesia cancelled

As we all know by now, the cancellation of Rally Indonesia was mainly due to the abnormal weather. Heavy rain conditions caused the rally route unusable thus prompting the organizers to try and move the rally to an alternate location.  Initially the rally organizer had proposed to FIA to move the event to the Penajam Paser Utara & Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur but unfortunately due to custom clearance issues that wasn’t possible either. In the end, they had no choice but to cancel the rally. What does a cancellation mean for the competing teams? For PROTON, we lose out in terms of the opportunity to garner more points – the team has been looking forward for a podium finish in Indonesia and the cars have been performing well lately. And so the team was hoping to achieve better results in Indonesia.

Guess we have to accept the fact that some events are just unavoidable and beyond our control. And on that note, we shall now look forward to the final round of APRC, Rally of China, taking place as scheduled on 6-8 November 2010.

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.

Stage 7 & 8 of the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship (Malaysian Rally) – Partial Results (Updated)

Stage 7 & 8  done, with day 1 of the rally coming to an end. The competition is stiff with McRae, Taguchi, Atkinson and Gill pushing the limits in each stage of the race, putting them in the top 4 spots in each stage.

McRae from the Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team leads the pack with a total time of 2:04:16.9 while Taguchi from MRF Tyres chasing for the top spot at 2:04:44.1. Gill from MRF Tyres is a minute and 26 secs behind his team mate at 2:05:43.1

Atkinson from the Proton R3 Malaysian Rally Team is at the 4th spot in the overall position now, making a quick leap from Stage 1 of the race when he suffered from electrical failures after a jump. With a total time of 2:22.42.2, he is 18 minutes behind Gill.

Here’s the partial results for stage 7 & 8 race at the Tai Tak Estate:

Result Stage 7 - Tai Tak Pipeline

Result Stage 7 - Tai Tak Pipeline

Result Stage 8 - Tai Tak Fish Pond

Result Stage 8 - Tai Tak Fish Pond

 

With only 6 teams in the Stage 8 results, it makes us wonder if any other teams have retired from the race. Missing in the list are:

Yuya Sumiyama & Naoki Kase – Cusco Racing
Tomohide Hasegawa & Nobuyoshi Hara – Hasepro World Rally Team
Karamjit Singh & Jagdev Singh – GSR Penzoil Racing Team – Officially retired
Hiroshi Yanagisawa & Yoshimasa Nakahara – Cusco Racing – Officially retired

We are waiting for the official release to be out and will update everyone once we have it.