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.
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 😉
Shakedown took place yesterday, at the Plaza Angsana. Check out some of the action below.
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.
Here’s a sneak peak of the all new Proton R3 Satria Neo, unveiled early February. Built in limited numbers and engineered for a more spirited drive, the new model features Stage 2 upgrades to the standard 1.6-litre CAMPRO S4PH engine and is rated at 145 brake horse power at 7000 rpm and 168 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm.
The R3 Satria Neo is a new generation of selected showroom models being injected with greater dynamic elements and excitement, catering to a niche segment of customers and enthusiasts who want a performance based car.
The car comes with unique features and styling. The model is offered only in exclusive Fire Red with a black roof and black and red two toned interior, giving the car an extremely sporty look.
- CPS bodykit with redesigned R3 rear roof spoiler and front lip which improves down force .
- Titanium coloured side strips or mouldings.
- R3 limited edition front sport seats in nappa leather with “trivel” fiber finish, carbon effect PVC and detailed in red stitching.
- Matte red dashboard trims, gear console and handbrake handle; two tone door trims; and R3 floor carpets.
- Engine start button, aluminium foot pedals and gear knob.
- Solar and security protection.
- 2-DIN multimedia player with unit with 3D GPS navigation.
- Dual front airbags, and Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD).
Technical specifications :
|Engine & Transmission||CAMPRO 1.6L DOHC (5MT)|
|Layout||Inline 4, 1597cc, 16-valve, Transverse FF|
|Bore x Stroke||76mm x 88mm|
|Engine Management||R3 Programmable ECU|
|Performance Enhancements||R3 Re-profiled Camshafts
R3 Adjustable Aluminium Cam Pulleys
R3 4-2-1 Tuned Stainless Steel Exhaust System
R3 Carbon Fibre Intake with K&N Air Filter
|Transmission||5MT close ratio with large final drive|
|Power||145 bhp/7,000 RPM|
|Torque||168 Nm/5,000 RPM|
|Top Speed||205 km/h|
|Suspension||R3 springs with lowered ride height and revised geometry|
|Brakes||Ventilated Front Discs with ABS, EBD and Performance Brake Pads|
|Wheels||R3 Edition Lightweight Alloy 16” x 7” ET38|
|Tyres||Bridgestone Adrenalin Potenza RE001
The Proton R3 Satria Neo is priced at RM79,797 (MT Metallic) with a booking fee of RM2,000 and is available for immediate booking at all PROTON Edar showrooms in Peninsular Malaysia.
For more information, visit the nearest PROTON showroom or contact PROTON i-Care at 1-300-880-888 or log on to www.r3.proton.com.
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.
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.
So you see, it’s not always just about men and women in crazily fast cars…:)
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
- The “SPOT THE DIFFERENCE” online contest (“Contest”) is organized by Group Marketing & Branding Division of PROTON Holdings Berhad (“PROTON”).
- 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.
- To stand a chance at winning the limited edition autographed items, the contestant has to:
- Be a member of the OFFICIAL PROTON SATRIA NEO SUPER 2000 fan page on Facebook
- Be one of the first 5 daily entries with the correct answers.
- All cost and expenses incurred by the participants under the Contest shall be borne by the participants themselves.
- The judges’ decision is final and no appeal whatsoever shall be entertained.
- 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.
- The names of the daily winners will also be posted on this Blog, Facebook and Twitter.
- Prizes unclaimed after a period of one (1) month will be forfeited.
- 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 😉
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.
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!
“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.”
“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.”
Yesterday’s final day at Ypres Rally saw all three of our cars retire at SS4 due to engine problems and were unable to continue with the rally. The team has already begun investigations into the root cause of the problem.
Rally Ypres was won by Belgian Freddy Loix in the Skoda Fabia S2000 21 seconds ahead of Jan Kopecky. His rival Kris Meeke crashed out and after that it was victory all the way for Fast Freddy. Third placing went to Peugeot’s Thierry Neuville.
Our team didn’t quite make it today but they did a good job as always, putting in a lot of effort, hard work and skill. In the world of rallying, nothing is predictable. Rallies take place on all surfaces and in all sorts of conditions. We’ve said this before, anything can happen in ralllies. That’s what makes it such a unique and interesting sport.
And as usual it was indeed a proud moment to see our team and cars compete globally. PROTON has certainly journeyed far and we look forward to Rally New Zealand with renewed spirit.
The Shakedown that took place yesterday was situated about 20 km drive from Ypres at the small town of Nieuwkerke. From 7pm till 11pm, over 80 cars ran the 4.88km stage. Thousands of spectators swamped the town and the surrounding countryside to catch a first glimpse of the cars in action.
My colleagues who are there at the rally tell me that there are many families with children amongst the group of spectators. That is so cool, reminds me of the amazing fans of Rally Hokkaido. Overall the spectator turnout at Ypres is great.
The team tested from 7pm till 11pm. It only began to get dark at 1030pm, and the team then fixed on the spotlights for a test before today’s rally that will run late into the night.
Will be back with more recaps.
In the meantime, we leave you with some quotes from our drivers:
On his thoughts about today’s rally – “Realistically, it will definitely be a big challenge with extremely strong opposition, but we will go out and give our best”.
“This is one of the all time great rallies of Europe, and it’s really exciting for PROTON and myself to be here. It will be a tough rally with 24 other Super 2000 cars running on some very tricky stages. Looking forward to the weekend stages and we will see how it goes.”
“The car is good and I’m happy with how its running. We managed to try some changes to the setup on the car today which has helped me decide on the final setup I’ll be running for the rally.”
There are many more interesting pictures on our Official Facebook Page of the town, the service park, the drivers and the overall scene at Ypres Rally so be sure to check those out too. Goodnight for now!