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PROTON takes fourth at Rally of Queensland

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 🙂

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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 😉

Malaysian Rally : Day 2 & still kicking!

Beautiful jump by Chris

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. 🙂

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@Kuala Lumpur Rally Day 2011

We were at the Kuala Lumpur Rally Day recently, held to promote interest in rally and as a promotional gig for the upcoming Malaysian Rally. The convoy began at Section 13 in Petaling Jaya and headed for the Golden Triangle, passing the routes of Jalan Ampang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Telawi and Jalan Gelenggang.

The Pennzoil GSR and MRU Motorsports rally teams were among the other teams participating in the event, and they brought out their cars in full force, including the Subaru Impreza WRX, Peugeot 206, and of course we brought our attention grabbing superstars – the Proton Satria Neo 1.6 and Proton Satria Neo S2000. A big shoutout to all our fans who came to support us, THANK YOU!

Check out some fab pictures of our fans below:

Last year, we didn’t win the Malaysian round, but the team didn’t go unnoticed. They set a very good pace and this year we’re hoping to make it to a podium finish. And we’re positive that it will happen.

Nine teams from around the region will be participating in the opening round of the APRC 2011, which forms part of the 2011 Malaysian Rally Championship. The Malaysian Rally is happening at the Plaza Angsana Johor Baru and Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi from 1-4 April 2011.

Coming up really soon, so stay tuned. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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.

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.

The other side of rally

It’s not always about loud exhausts and screeching brakes at rallies. If you thought rally events were just about the rallying bit, well you’ve not quite grasped the enormity of the entire event.

At rallies, many other events take place. There are car shows and exhibitions, entertainment and charity events. At one of the previous rallies, the organizers even brought in little ponies for rides, had dogs and roosters (yes, roosters!) on show and life size cartoon characters were running all around the grounds of the service park! I suppose these were added attractions to the actual event itself, that lent to the overall festive mood of the service park and surrounding areas. At the recent Australian rally, there was even a special cocktail created in honour of our S2000 – how flattering!

The S2000 cocktail @Rally Queensland

Life sized cartoon character at the closing ceremony of Rally Hokkaido

Ponies on display at the service park – Rally Hokkaido

Then there are the fans, the wonderful supportive fans. They who come from far and near to catch the cars and drivers in action, some going home with autographs and other merchandise the team may have given them, others just happy to have had a glimpse of their favourite teams, cars and drivers. Some fans even go as far as making their own merchandise! And may I add, the team at PROTON simply love their fans to bits!

Fans gathered at the PROTON service tent in Hokkaido

And finally rally events don’t forget the needy. And the team is ever ready to support any good cause. While at the Rally of Queensland recently, PROTON took the opportunity to contribute to a good cause by participating in a charity auction. The auction was organized by Variety Queensland, an Australian based worldwide charity for children. Shirts were signed by the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally team’s ace drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson and put up for auction to raise funds for the charitable organization.  We hope they manage to raise a significant amount for the cause they believe in.

Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson signing T-shirts to be auctioned for charity at Rally Queensland

So you see, it’s not always just about men and women in crazily fast cars…:)

“Spot the Difference” Online Contest

Happy Thursday, everyone! We’ve got an easy peasy contest lined up for our fans over here at the PROTON Motorsports blog. Titled “Spot The Difference” online contest, all you have to do is spot the differences in the images provided below and answer two easy questions.

The first five (5) readers with a sharp eye who are able to spot the differences between the two PROTON Satria Neo S2000 Rally car images will stand a chance to win exclusive autographed items by the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 R3 Malaysia Rally Team drivers themselves. Everyday for the next three days, the first five (5) readers will be able to participate in this contest and win those prizes. Cool, eh.

So what do you need to do exactly?

Answer this question:

1. What is the name of the first driver of the PROTON R3 MALAYSIA RALLY TEAM?

* He has been involved in motorsports for the past 16 years, participating in more than 80 WRC events which is not surprising as he comes from a family of rally drivers, father Jimmy and late brother World Rally Champion Colin.

a) Stephane Prevot

b) Bill Hayes

c) Alister McRae

d) Chris Atkinson

Then spot the differences between the two images below and answer the question that follows:

Spot the objects that do not belong on the PROTON S2000 Rally Car:

a) The PROTON logo shield

b) The thunder bolt

c) The R3 logo

d) The star

So how do you submit your entries? Just post your answers in the comments box below.  Don’t forget to leave us your email address so we can contact you.

And of course, as with everything in life, there are rules to follow. So let’s go through some basic rules and regulations shall we?

“SPOT THE DIFFERENCE” Online Contest Rules & Regulations

  1. The “SPOT THE DIFFERENCE” online contest (“Contest”) is organized by Group Marketing & Branding Division of PROTON Holdings Berhad (“PROTON”).
  2. The contest period is from 29th July 2010 to 31st July 2010 and open to anyone above 18 years of age except employees of PROTON Holdings Berhad and its Group of Companies (“PROTON”) and their immediate families, PROTON’s advertising agencies and appointed distributors.
  3. To stand a chance at winning the limited edition autographed items, the contestant has to:
    1. Be a member of the OFFICIAL PROTON SATRIA NEO SUPER 2000 fan page on Facebook
    2. Be one of the first 5 daily entries with the correct answers.
  4. All cost and expenses incurred by the participants under the Contest shall be borne by the participants themselves.
  5. The judges’ decision is final and no appeal whatsoever shall be entertained.
  6. Winners would be notified via email. If any winner does not respond within 3 days, the next quickest participant with the right answers shall be deemed the winner.
  7. The names of the daily winners will also be posted on this Blog, Facebook and Twitter.
  8. Prizes unclaimed after a period of one (1) month will be forfeited.
  9. PROTON and its agencies shall be entitled to use the winners’ names and/or photographs for the purposes of publicity, advertising and/or trade without any compensation or notice to the winners.

Copyright Info © 2010 Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd

So hurry and participate now! Watch this space on Monday, 2nd August 2010 for the winner’s list and see if you made it on the list 😉

Rally Whangarei : Sweet podium finish

Apologies for the late update here on the PROTON Motorsports blog. I have been away for a bit…but I am back and I must say all of us at PROTON are just so happy for the PROTON R3 Malaysia Rally Team, we had our very first podium finish at the Rally of New Zealand. Finally, all hard work paid off for the team.

Let’s go through a quick recap of the New Zealand rally.

Attended by thousands of spectators, the rally, a four day event, run over the toughest of the North Island roads in typically changeable Kiwi conditions saw dry sunny conditions on Day 1 of the rally with a sudden bout of heavy rain on Sunday day 2. Suffice to say, visibility was poor on day 2 for the drivers and it was a challenge indeed.

Alister McRae, who drove on both days with the main aim to garner more points, was rewarded with an entirely untroubled second place.

Chris however, retired on day 1 due to a snapped alternator belt but returned on day 2 under super rally rules. He set the fastest time on SS9 but unfortunately had to stop at SS14 due to an unidentified engine problem.

Also, both Alister and Chris were regularly in the top three APRC times throughout the rally.

Alister & Bill were initially positioned at third place during the closing ceremony due to an error by the organizers which was later rectified.

Hayden Paddon in a Mitsubishi EVO IX and John Kennard, both Kiwi drivers, took victory on both days. 23 year old Hayden Paddon also won 13 of the event’s 16 competitive stages and set five new stage records.

You’ll find more updates and pictures on our Facebook page so if you’re not a fan, you should join us now.

Once again, well done to the team and here’s to PROTON’s first podium finish for 2010 and more to come!

Next up is the International Rally of Queensland. More details on the upcoming rally in future posts.

Leaving you with some quotes from the team and do have yourselves a splendid week ahead!

Alister McRae:
“I knew the car was capable of this kind of performance, and I know it’s capable of going quicker as well. Taking second in the APRC here is really important for the team, it’s a real shot in the arm for everybody. But now we want to win. We know we have the pace to win these APRC rounds and that’s got to be the next step in Australia at the end of the month. In the end, we had the perfect rally.

We didn’t have to touch the car at all, the boys didn’t lay a spanner on the PROTON once, which is really encouraging from a reliability point of view. We weren’t going anywhere near flat out with the car, though. The main aim from this event was to pick up points and that’s what we have done. What a great place to go rallying, though. Even in the pouring rain today, it was fantastic to drive those stages again. You can really put the hammer down and push on, knowing the car’s going to stick before leaping over the cambers and into the corner. It’s been a great weekend.”

Chris Atkinson:
“I love the roads down here in New Zealand and this car suited the stages perfectly. I was amazed at just how much speed you could carry through the corners in this car, there’s so much grip in the PROTON, it’s fantastic. We managed to set some competitive times on this event, which is pleasing. But what’s more important is that we know what we were doing to set those times and, believe me, there’s more to come from the car.

We arrived in Whangarei with a bit of pressure on, you know we hadn’t pulled the result we might have done in the IRC round [at Ypres] and while we’d shown great stage times and Alister led and almost won in Malaysia, we needed to put some points away down here. Unfortunately for us, we had a freak thing with the alternator belt on the first day: had it not been for that I reckon there would have been two PROTONs on the podium and who knows who would have been on which step! This has been a really positive and encouraging weekend.”

Chris Mellors (team principal):
“I’m happy with that result. Both drivers were out there under strict instructions about how to drive the cars, so we know there’s more to come from the Satria and Alister and Chris. I was really pleased with the way Chris went in particular, he showed some great speed and set some very good times, some of which we’re told were close to stage records set in the dry. Alister was, as usual, very competitive, quick and consistent.

We’ve had a bit of a tough run recently, so to be heading home with a result, second place under our belts, puts more wind in the sails. We’re going to be doing some more testing and more development work ahead of the next APRC round in Queensland. Like Alister said, we want to take that next step up the podium.”