They did it! The team finished first and third place overall at the Rally De Nouvelle Caledonie last weekend to clinch its second successive victory after three rounds of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Chris scored his second win of the season, together with co-driver Stephane Prevot in the all famous yellow Neo finishing the three-day event ahead of Pertamina Cusco Racing’s Rifat Sungkar in the more powerful turbocharged Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Meanwhile, Alister drove to a hard-fought third place after having conceded his early lead in the rally due to a puncture and broken driveshaft.
Victory in New Caledonia saw team PROTON claiming not only the overall victory, but also top honors amongst the APRC contenders and finishing first in the Pacific Cup. PROTON also clinched the APRC Team Trophy at the event.
“It’s a phenomenal result for PROTON, the entire team and for Stephane and I personally. Our rally wasn’t exactly trouble free especially with a broken driveshaft in day 2 but we were lucky we had built a big enough gap to have it replaced and still hang on to the lead,” said Chris.
“In terms of power, performance and reliability, the Satria Neo S2000 performed like a gem this weekend.”
With maximum points scored in New Caledonia, Chris moves into the lead of the APRC Driver’s Championship with 58 points, just two points ahead of Alister. In third place is currently Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill who retired in New Caledonia. Alister also reclaims the top spot in the Asia Cup Driver’s Championship ahead of Gill. Also moving to first and second places in the APRC Co-Driver’s Championship are Stephane Prevot and Billy Hayes with 58 and 56 points respectively.
The team now stretches its lead in the APRC Teams Trophy with 128 points ahead of Team MRF that had both drivers retiring in New Caledonia.
And as a bonus, Karamjit Singh also won the Two-Wheel Drive Category in his 1600cc Satria Neo which extends his lead in the Driver’s Championship and PROTON’s lead in the Manufacturer’s Championship to 78 points respectively. Karamjit finished ninth overall in the rally.
So of course everyone’s over the moon with the victory, and rightfully so. It goes to show how competitive the Neo S2000 is, despite enduring its share of misfortunes and technical issues along the way this year. The cars competed against more powerful turbocharged cars and won rallies!
We’re so proud of the team and wish them all the best as they move on to the Ypres Rally in Belgium coming up very soon.
Meanwhile, check out exclusive photos of the New Caledonia rally and behind the scene photos of the team including amazing pictures of the island and its people at our official Facebook page.
Four’s not such a bad number. It’s better than being at fifth 5 and certainly a lot higher than 10. At the Rally of Queensland that took place sometime mid May, Alister and co-driver Bill fended off a series of misfortunes to give PROTON a strong fourth place finish.
Beginning the day with an eight second advantage over Mitsubishi’s Gaurav Gill, they were forced to relinquish the rally when the Proton Satria Neo S2000’s engine began misfiring after a water crossing in one of the day’s seven special stages. Their charge back to the top was dealt an even serious blow when they were forced to slow down considerably as a result of a broken drive shaft over 50km of the last three special stages of the rally, causing them to lose more time. Despite this, they managed to hang on to 4th place in front of a Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia, in his Mitsubishi Evolution 10.
“With no service interval, we were forced to slow down and nurse the car to the finish. It was a tough event, one that presented us with a lot of challenges. McRae and I are obviously disappointed in not being able to secure a podium finish but considering the circumstances, finishing fourth at least sees us heading to the next APRC round with valuable championship points,” said Bill.
Rejoining the final day of the rally after an early retirement on day two, Chris endured a second electrical failure which ended his rally.
The rally was won by British driver Mark Higgins, who finished 16 seconds ahead of Gill, while in third place was Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi.
It was a hard fought rally, and while the team were hoping for a better result after a strong start, fourth place amidst an unfortunate last day will nevertheless go a long way in extending their position in the overall manufacturer’s championship, with full points on Leg 1 and some good points on Leg 2 with a 4th overall and 1st in Class 2.
Meanwhile, PROTON’s 1600cc group N Satria Neos finished 9th and 11th overall in the rally, and 1st and 2nd in class at the hands of Karamjit Singh and Proton Cusco Rally Team mate Akira Bamba.
Better luck next time 🙂
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 😉
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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)… 🙂
Despite more challenges faced in the Scotland Rally, the team once again demonstrated the pace and performance of the S2000 in the penultimate round of the IRC which covered a combined distance of 196.92km of competitive special stages.
The rough three-day rally saw the top competitors battling repeated punctures. McRae and co-driver Hayes drove to a commendable comeback to finish the final day of the rally fourth fastest. McRae was excluded from an overall placing, but had rejoined the rally under the FIA Super Rally Format following an early retirement on day two due to a failed alternator.
PROTON team mate and two-time reigning British Rally champion Keith Cronin, were forced to retire from the event, joining a host of other drivers whose run was hampered by punctures throughout the rally.
Privateer Tom Cave also rejoined PROTON in Scotland. Starting the third and final day of the rally from ninth, Cave charged aggressively through the last four special stages in dramatic style which saw Skoda, Ford, Peugeot and PROTON taking the top four fastest positions. Cave too suffered an early setback when two punctures forced the young driver to nurse the Satria Neo S2000 back to service, dropping him back to ninth position and some 10 minutes behind, eventually succumbing to the slippery and rough roads.
While the rally of Scotland did not pan out the way the team would have hoped, and as the IRC season comes to an end this year, the pace set by the cars are proof enough that the Satria Neo S2000 is indeed competitive globally among the likes of more established car manufacturers. PROTON’s consistent performance and the fact that McRae secured a second place finish in last year’s Rally of Scotland goes a long way in reaffirming not only the car’s reliability, durability and performance, but also in raising the profile and level of confidence in PROTON as a competitive car.
PROTON’s selected entries in the 2010 IRC are geared towards fine-tuning the Satria Neo S2000 in preparation for the championship in 2011. The team may be returning for the next season with the hopes that they are able to apply further development and enhancements to the car that will help the team to gain a much deserved victory.
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 🙂