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Malaysian Rally : We are the champions!

The PROTON Motorsports rally team did it! They won, and what a sweet victory too, with Chris at 1st and Alister at 3rd placing overall. Congratulations team PROTON!


With  an entirely new suspension set-up and significant engine enhancements, Chris steered the Neo to victory finishing 1 minute 36.6 seconds ahead of MRF’s Gaurav Gill in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with Alister coming in at third.

Restarting the third and final day of the rally in Kota Tinggi with a lead of 2 minutes 10 seconds, Chris was quickly forced to concede 30 seconds to an attacking Gill, as he nursed a right rear puncture sustained midway into the opening 12.42km special stage at Tai Tak – Court House.

With the punctured tyre replaced and unable to afford another puncture, Chris then paced the Satria Neo S2000 through the two remaining 11.97km and 14.26km special stages to return safely to the scheduled service interval. With four special stages remaining, he needed only to steer clear of trouble and maintain an already comfortable lead.

Alister thinks the results were fantastic and that the Neo performed extremely well throughout the rally. It was especially satisfying for him to have been able to demonstrate the car’s true potential, competitiveness and its level of pace and performance in front of the home crowd. Alister also celebrates his first ever victory and only second podium finish with PROTON since joining the team last year.

For Alister, third place was every bit rewarding as he had to manage an overheating problem caused by debris and vegetation blocking the air path to the radiator through the front bumper grille. The podium finish also places him second behind Gaurav, in the Asia Cup category.

Victory was even more meaningful for Alister’s co-driver Stephane Prevot who in his 24 years of rallying, celebrated his 300th rally on top of the podium and the APRC standings.

The third and final day of the Malaysian Rally was run over seven special stages totaling 79.80km. Heavy downpour just hours before the rally was due to start on the second day had wrecked havoc on the event, inflicting so many serious casualties and eliminating most of the top seeded drivers, as what had earlier been dry and dusty quickly became muddy and slippery conditions.

The Satria Neo S2000’s pace and performance in Malaysia forms a strong foundation for further development in preparation for the next round of the APRC which moves to Australia next month and with five more very competitive rounds to contest.

Outstanding results for PROTON at the Malaysian Rally also extended to the two debutante front-wheel driven 1600cc Satria Neos. Competing for the very first time, the two cars finished 8th and 9th overall at the hands of PROTON Cusco Rally Team’s Akira Bamba and Kosuke Takashino. Both drivers also clinched 1st and 2nd in the APRC Junior Cup category.

Well done again to the team, the engineers and the people behind the scenes who made it happen. Also a big shoutout to all our fans who kept the faith and remained our strong supporters. THANK YOU!

More pictures and videos at our Facebook page. Bubye for now 😉

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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 Motorsports Group N Rally Cars in Japan

Hello everyone, we’re back after the break. Hope everyone’s Chinese New Year celebrations were a blast. So what’s been happening with PROTON Motorsports lately? Quite a bit, apart from the recent Monte Carlo rally. We recently signed a deal with renowned Japanese parts manufacturer Carroser Co. Ltd.(CUSCO), who purchased the Satria Neo cars to be sold as rally cars in Japan. That’s the first time ever a PROTON car will go on sale in Japan. The technical collaboration came about as a result from the performance and potential of the Satria Neo S2000 rally car at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).

The car was unveiled recently at the Tokyo Auto Salon show that took place on 14 – 16 January 2011.  The CUSCO engineered Group N Proton Satria Neo rally car will be sold to competitors who will be competing in the Junior Rally Championships in Japan and Asia Pacific.

The Group N Proton Satria Neo rally cars will be based on stock standard road-registered 1600cc showroom models acquired by CUSCO, homologated according to FIA regulations for competition use, and retrofitted with CUSCO-developed aftermarket performance and race components.

CUSCO is famous for producing top-of-the-line aftermarket performance parts for both the Japanese and international tuning markets. They’re also the only independent firm in Japan to compete in all categories of the ALL-Japan Championships: track racing, rallying, dirt trials and gymkhana.

At the same Tokyo Auto Salon, a concept Proton R3 Satria Neo went on display. The concept car is a sporty three-door hatchback that features R3’s distinct body styling, enhanced engine performance, braking, handling and an upgraded interior. A feast for the eyes indeed for Japanese car enthusiasts and visitors to the show from around the globe.

Proton Satria Neo concept car@Tokyo Auto Salon 2011

The Tokyo Auto Salon happens to be the world’s largest auto exhibition showcasing more than 600 vehicles and 300 companies involving after-market parts manufacturers, tuners, custom shops, car manufacturers, automotive businesses, associations and automotive vocational schools.

Group N rally cars in Shakedown action!

Soon after that the Group N rally cars participated in a shakedown event held with the Japanese media, dealers and potential owners of the Neo at the Maruwa Autoland Nasu in Togichi. Members present experienced the thrill and adrenalin of being in the rally car during shakedown, in the co-driver’s seat. Professional Japanese drivers from various racing backgrounds were also present to test drive  and share their experience with the Group N Rally car, Neo Standard & Neo Concept.

In the event, the Neo went though two days of testing over a distance of 250km on gravel roads without any mechanical issues. Overall the drivers rated the car as having very good handling and balance when driven at high speed.  Also at the event, a Mazda 2 rally car was brought in to be pitched against our Neo.  The Proton car beat the Mazda, clocking in a time of 1 min and 19 seconds, ahead of the Mazda by 6 seconds over a 1km stage. This clearly demonstrated the Neo’s capability when pitched against other reputed manufacturers. Pretty cool!

So what’s next? PROTON and CUSCO will be participating in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2011 under the Junior Trophy category. The category will be introduced for the first time this year in the APRC, to increase opportunities for young talented drivers within the region. The event is only open to drivers born on or after 1 January 1982. Junior Group N driver, Bamba San, is expected to participate in this event, with a selected Malaysian rally driver. The event will involve four qualifying rounds that will take place in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan.

Check out our official Facebook page here for videos of the shakedown under the videos section.

The Satria Neo Group N Rally cars will also be available for sale in Malaysia. For further enquiries on specifications and pricing, contact us via email at motorsports@proton.com.

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)… 🙂

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.