China Longyou Rally review
November 7, 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team dominated the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in China this weekend – with Alister McRae clinching maximum points on the China Longyou Rally and his team-mate Chris Atkinson finishing second of the series runners.

Both McRae and Atkinson were among the APRC pacesetters throughout the 15-stage, two-day event in China’s Zhejiang Province. Both drivers ran at the front of the field, but were hampered when they collected punctures after running over extraordinarily large rocks in their Satria Neo S2000s. The tyres were unable to cope with the savage nature of the razor-sharp boulders strewn across the road.

Having led through day one, the deflations dropped the PROTON drivers down the leader board going into today’s final day, but some stunning driving allied to exceptional pace and reliability from the PROTON allowed the pair to power through the field to dominate the top two steps of the APRC podium.

The event ran in warm and dry conditions, with plenty of spectators turning out to cheer their rally heroes through the beautiful mountain stages. And the loudest cheers were saved for a Scotsman, an Australian and their flying Malaysian machinery. Having come within an ace of winning earlier rounds of the series, the PROTON R3 Rally Team finally demonstrated what it is capable of at the highest level of rallying in the Asia-Pacific region.


Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
“Winning the last round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for PROTON is the perfect way to end the year, it’s what we were here to do. We came close to this result in Malaysia and Australia earlier in the season, I thought those events had PROTON’s name on, but it wasn’t to be. Everybody in the team has put so much effort into this car and this programme; this is a great way to pay them back. Having been to this event last year, I had a rough idea of what was coming – but I don’t remember it being quite so rough! The roads were unbelievable in places, but we got through them. The organisers of the event had put in some more asphalt roads which we hadn’t used last year, but these were basically long, fast stretches on concrete, which didn’t really add much to the event. Throughout the whole event, we had our eyes firmly fixed on getting to the finish of what was a really tough rally. We knew we could up the pace, but all the time we were concerned by the chance of getting punctures; as a team we’ve suffered five punctures and to still come away with a one-two result in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is the perfect result for PROTON – and a great demonstration of the potential of the Satria Neo S2000.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“This is a great result for the team, especially on such a difficult rally. It was really tough – the roads were unbelievable in places, with rocks so big they were worse than the Acropolis Rally. My car ran without any problems, the boys changed the clutch after the first day, but it was just a precaution. We knew what we had to do on this event, we knew the priority was to get to the finish of the event and that’s what we did. Obviously, we would have been quicker if it hadn’t been for the three punctures, but when you look at the state of the road, it was hardly surprising!”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“Obviously, we’re delighted with this result, it’s a well-deserved and hard-earned result for everybody at PROTON and MEM. Both Alister and Chris have driven fantastic rallies and, in fairness, I think either of them could have won this last round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Both of them were unfortunate to collect punctures, but the roads were very, very rough. Given how bad the stages were, the cars have run tremendously well; at times the boys were driving over breeze-block-sized rocks, enormous things – and the Satrias didn’t miss a beat. It’s good for everybody involved here that we’re ending the season on a high. We now go into a closed season with a lot of development work and testing to do ahead of next year, but we’ve got the win under our belts, it’s come a little later in the year than we would have hoped or probably deserved, but it’s here nevertheless.”

Event data:
Round: 7/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Longyou, Zhejiang Province
Stages: 15
Liaison distance: 441.66km
Competitive distance: 229.99km
Total distance: 671.65km
Conditions: 15 degrees, sunny
APRC day one leader: Hiroshi Yanagisawa (J) Mitsubishi
APRC winner: Alister McRae (GB) PROTON



PROTON ready for final Asia-Pacific battle of the season


China Rally Longyou 2010

November 1, 2010

This year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship enters its final round in China this week and, once again, the PROTON R3 Rally Team will be at the sharp end of the competition, battling for victory on China Rally Longyou.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team Satria Neo S2000 has undergone further development ahead of the APRC finale, with the British-based squad making full use of the extra time following the cancellation of the penultimate round in Indonesia.

Scotsman Alister McRae and Australia’s most famous rally driver Chris Atkinson will drive the Satrias in Longyou County, Zhejiang Province. McRae contested the event last season and was running fourth and pushing for a podium in the PROTON, despite that only being his second event in the car. This time around, the team’s only aim is for victory. But that’s not going to come easily. Once again, the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship will provide some fierce competition and the Chinese stages are as tricky as any.

The route runs the Longyou County, which was founded 2,232 years ago. The China Rally Longyou has a slightly shorter history: first run in 1997, it has been an APRC round since 2006. The terrain is mountainous and beautiful – not that Alister and Chris will have a moment to take in the views or appreciate any of the 100 protected cultural relics in the area.

The gravel stages run through the bamboo forests with more than half of the route on loose surfaces. There are three new stages for this year’s event, two of which are a mixture of concrete and gravel and one, the event’s final test Mo Huan, which is totally concrete.

Unlike to much of this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, this rally is likely to be run in cool temperatures of around 12 degrees with possible rain.


Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
“We did this event last year, so it’s really good to be going back to somewhere we know. It’s always easier to do an event the second time around, you have more data for setting the car up and a good, general idea of what the stages are going to be like. Having said that, I think the stages are something like 45 per cent new for this year, so we will be writing a lot of new notes. I enjoyed the stages last year, but they tend to be a little bit on the slow side, with lots of uphill hairpins. I was really impressed with the car after I drove it in Scotland, the engine felt really strong and the way the car handled was very nice. We’ve come very close to winning rounds of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship this season and, hopefully, this is going to be the event where we finally turn all of the PROTON’s potential into a first win at this level.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“It’s great to get back in the car and have a go at an event like China. It’s a completely different experience to rallying in any other country, it’s a totally different culture, but I think it’s one that I will like. I have done some rallying in this part of the world when I did the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2003, but I haven’t done this event before. It’ll be useful to have a chat with Alister to talk about what he learned last year. But, for me, I want to get out there and show what the PROTON can really do. We were setting some really good times in Queensland, last time out, and since then we know the Satria Neo S2000 has taken some more development, so it should be a really strong package. I’m sure it’s going to be a good event.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“This is an event we’ve got some data from, from last year’s rally, so we know what we’re going to get here – although there are some new stages this time around. We’re looking to end the year on a high, once again the car has shown some great potential and it’s really come on in terms of development through the season. This is the final event in the APRC season and we’re definitely looking to come home from China with a result.”

Event data:
Round: 7/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Longyou, Zhejiang Province
Stages: 15
Liaison distance: 441.66km
Competitive distance: 229.99km
Total distance: 671.65km
Shakedown: Superspecial Stage, Shiyuan (Thursday November 4, 1530)
Pre-event press conference: Minjuyuan (Thursday November 4, 2000)
Post-event press conference: 8/F Meeting Room, Construction Bureau (Sunday November 7, 1445)
Time difference: China is GMT+8hrs


Event timetable:
Friday November 5
Ceremonial start – RongChang Square    1100
SS1 Superspecial Stage (1.82km)    1400

Saturday November 6
SS2 Ma Shu Kou 1 (25.53km)    0802
SS3 Mao Jia Pu 1 (14.70km)    0842
SS4 Hong Miao 1 (2.73km)    0919
Service – Long Xiang Lu    0957
SS5 Ma Shu Kou 2 (25.53km)    1128
SS6 Mao Jia Pu 2 (14.70km)    1208
SS7 Hong Miao 2 (12.56km)    1245
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1321
SS8 Ma Shu Kou 3 (25.53km)    1452
SS9 Hong Miao 3 (12.56km)    1541
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1617


Sunday November 7
SS10 San Men Yuan 1 (16.35km)    0830
SS11 Heng Shan 1 (13.23km)     0920
SS12 Mo Huan 1 (12.67km)    1000
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1036
SS13 San Men Yuan 2 (16.35km)    1154
SS14 Heng Shan 2 (13.23km)     1244
SS15 Mo Huan 2 (12.67km)    1324
Finish – RongChang Square    1430


RACMSA Rally of Scotland review

October 17, 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team struggled to match the pace which carried them to second overall on the Rally of Scotland last season, with both factory cars hitting trouble on the Perth-based penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The third, semi-works car of 18-year-old Tom Cave was on-course to finish an untroubled fourth overall when the young Welshman collected two punctures on the final morning.

After the rain-hit Rally of Scotland last season, this year’s event turned out to be dry – and an absolute classic. The stunning Highland scenery played perfect host to a fascinating round of the IRC, with the Proton’s providing plenty of entertainment for the thousands of fans who had turned out to enjoy rallying at its very best.

Unfortunately for Alister McRae – the Scottish hero who most of the spectators had turned out to cheer – he suffered a freak electrical failure in the third stage. Going into the Craigvinean test, north of Perth, McRae had been ahead of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion – and winner of two 2010 IRC rounds – Juho Hanninen (Skoda). McRae’s hopes of mixing it with the champion and his IRC colleagues were dashed when his Satria Neo S2000 was halted with an alternator problem. Alister did his best to fix the problem, but retired later in the day.

McRae’s team-mate Keith Cronin arrived on a high, having recently been crowned British Rally Champion for the second successive season. A puncture on the first stage stymied his attack first thing on Saturday morning and a problem with the intercom system in his co-driver’s crash helmet meant he couldn’t hear the vital pace notes for the next two stages. Having endured a tough morning, Keith was ready to put on the kind of charge he’d managed on the Barum Rally Zlin, his last event with Proton, when he set incredible times on the re-run of the opening loop.

Concerned by a steering problem in the afternoon’s first stage, Keith got out and looked under the bonnet. Unfortunately, he forgot to replace the bonnet retaining pins. As soon as he got up to speed, the bonnet flew up. His co-driver Barry McNulty got out to replace the bonnet and, in the process, dropped his timecards – the official documentation which allow the organisers to keep a check on the cars. Without the necessary paperwork to continue, Keith was, unfortunately, forced out of the rally.


Quotes:

Alister McRae said:

“It was great to get back out in the Scottish stages and to see the fans and the Saltires they were waving. I always get a real buzz when I’m competing on home territory. It was just a shame things didn’t go our way on this event. We really didn’t manage to get into our stride, which meant we weren’t able to show what we could do – and what the car is capable of. For sure, the PROTON has come on since we drove it last: the engine and the dampers are working very, very well. This car still has a great deal of potential and pace to come.”

Keith Cronin said:
“This was a very frustrating event for me. It was only my second time driving an S2000 car on gravel – and my entry on Rally of Scotland really didn’t last very long last year. I came here looking for experience and for time in the car and I haven’t really managed that. We weren’t able to get into the groove at all on Saturday morning, the puncture spoiled it in Craigvinean and then I just couldn’t hear what Barry was saying to me in the next two. On the whole, it’s been a tough event, but one where I have seen the potential of the car again.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“After the result we achieved [second overall] with Alister last year, we had high hopes for this event again this year, but those hopes were hit by a bizarre problem on the alternator – not something we’ve ever had a problem with before that. We simply haven’t been able to get into our stride on this event, we haven’t found the kind of rhythm which we need to challenge. That’s the same for Keith [Cronin]. Both drivers had a very good test with no problems, but we haven’t been able to recreate that pace on the event. Keith struggled with a puncture and some intercom problems in the morning, but then retired from the rally in fairly odd circumstances. The positive is the way the drivers felt about the car when they were running, both Alister and Keith are pleased with the developments which have come on the engine and the dampers. Tom [Cave] showed great pace and was on for a superb result, only to be foiled by punctures on the second day. Tom could have been fourth overall, which would have been an exceptional result for a driver of his age and experience in such exalted company.”

Event data:
Round: 11/12, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Perth, Scotland
Stages: 12
Liaison distance: 617.09km
Competitive distance: 196.92km
Total distance: 814.01km
Conditions: 11 degrees, sunny/overcast
Day one leader: Juho Hanninen (FIN) Skoda
Winner: Juho Hanninen (FIN) Skoda

PROTON chasing another top result in Scotland

Rally of Scotland preview
October 8, 2010

RAC MSA Rally of Scotland - United Kingdom - Gravel

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will return to the scene of its strongest outing to date: the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Rally of Scotland, next week.

In preparation for the Perth-based event, PROTON drivers Alister McRae and Keith Cronin will conduct a day-long test in Scotland on Tuesday. With further development testing completed in Wales this week, Alister and Keith will focus their attentions on completing the vital final set-up work on their cars. The pre-event test is even more important than usual, in the absence of a shakedown stage. And it’s double important for Keith, given that the double British Rally Champion has never driven the Satria Neo S2000 on gravel previously.

Alister guided the factory PROTON to second place on last November’s event, reckoned by many to be among the wettest rallies on record. This time around, the forecast is for brighter weather, which should ensure the Perthshire and Stirlingshire roads offer more grip.

The event’s service park has moved from the centre of Stirling to Perth Airport, but on Sunday it’s the town of Aberfeldy which plays host to a 15-minute stop between the two loops of tests.

The ceremonial start venue, one of the most historic of the season, remains at Scone Palace, the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. And, of course, a one-time resting place for the Stone of Destiny, which was used in the coronation process.

Not only does the event start at Scone, it will also play host to the first two stages of the event, a tricky 3.37-kilometre dash around the beautiful Palace.

As on last year’s event, Eurosport will be broadcasting television pictures of PROTON live from the Errochty stage on Saturday and Loch Ard, which provides the finale to the rally, on Sunday.

Having started at a venue steeped in history, the rally ends at an equally famous place on Sunday, with the Stirling Castle set as the perfect backdrop to bring what will have been a memorable, entertaining and competitive round of the IRC to a close for the PROTON R3 Rally Team.


Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
“It’s always nice to compete at home, particularly coming back to Perth after such a strong result last season. The car has definitely improved through the year, with the work on the engine and dampers paying dividends with the Satria. I know I’m biased, but some of the stages on this event are absolutely fantastic and among the best in the world. The Loch Ard stage on Sunday was new for us all last year and it was great, a real flowing driver’s stage; I’m certainly looking forward to getting back into there again. Seeing the Saltire at the side of the road always gives you a big boost on your home event and this rally has good memories for me: it was my first IRC round for the PROTON team and PROTON’s best result of the season.”

Keith Cronin said:
“Having driven this car on the asphalt in the Czech Republic, I absolutely can’t wait to get into it on the gravel. I did this event last year, but beyond the pace notes I made, I didn’t really get far enough into the event to get much experience. It’s good to have a team-mate like Alister, I think he’ll probably have a good idea of what’s going on up here. In one way I’m starting again driving this car for the first time on gravel, but in another way I’m a step ahead from Barum Rally already, I’m more familiar with the car and with what’s going on inside the cockpit, just a bit more familiar with the workings of the machine. My approach will be the same as Barum, I’ll start out quite steady and see how we go. At the end of the event, I’d like to think we’re going to be aiming for a top-five result, but there’s a lot of strong competition out there.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“The car has moved on so much from where we were on this event last year, it’s really exciting to be going back to Scotland again, and we’re going back to try and improve on the result we achieved with Alister last season. The damper test earlier this week went really well. We’ve been able to take the car forward again in that area, which translates to more traction and stability. Everybody in the team is really up for this one, obviously we have good memories of last year and we’re all looking forward to going back. We’ve got two good drivers and we’re after the right result. We’ve got Tom [Cave] out with the PROTON as well, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. Obviously, the other thing we’re hoping for is some better weather than last year, when it absolutely poured with rain. This doesn’t bother the drivers really, it’s equal for all of them, but a bit of sunshine makes for a better event for the fans and the marshals.”

Event data:
Round: 11/12, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Perth, Scotland
Stages: 12
Liaison distance: 617.09km
Competitive distance: 196.92km
Total distance: 814.01km
Pre-event press conference: Media centre (Friday October 15, 1600)
Post-event press conference: Media centre (Sunday October 17, 1800)


Event timetable:
Friday October 15
Start Perth    1950
SS1 Scone Palace 1 (3.37km)    2011
SS2 Scone Palace 2 (3.37km)    2030


Saturday October 16
SS3 Craigvinean 1 (17.34km)    0720
SS4 Drummond Hill 1 (15.08km)    0845
SS5 Errochty 1 (17.68km)    1010
Service Perth Airport    1205
SS6 Craigvinean 2 (17.34km)    1350
SS7 Drummond Hill 2 (15.08km)    1515
SS8 Errochty 2 (17.68km)    1640
Service Perth Airport    1835

Sunday October 17
SS9 Clashmore 1 (15.95km)    0840
SS10 Loch Ard 1 (29.04km)    1010
Service Aberfoyle    1114
SS9 Clashmore 1 (15.95km)    1140
SS10 Loch Ard 1 (29.04km)    1310
Finish Stirling Castle    1504



Panizzi completes Sanremo for PROTON

Rallye Sanremo
September 26, 2010


Gilles Panizzi made his debut with the PROTON R3 Rally Team on this week's Rallye Sanremo, bringing the Satria Neo S2000 to the finish of the classic Italian event, the 10th round of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge.



Panizzi joined the team earlier this month, with PROTON only deciding to contest the asphalt event three weeks ago after Rally Indonesia was cancelled. The Frenchman's return to competition after a two-year lay-off was always taken with an eye to the future. Having tested the Satria Neo S2000 for two days ahead of Rallye Sanremo, Panizzi always talked of the event itself - one which he has won three times before - as being an extension to the test. Panizzi spent the 11 stages learning more and more about the PROTON on roads he knows well.

Panizzi ended the event in 20th position (which would have been 19th had it not been for a minute's penalty for a timing error) but he stressed that this rally was not about the result, it was about the value of the seat time for him to get to know the Satria. With that done, the seven-time world rally winner and the British-based PROTON R3 Rally Team look ahead to the future.



Niall McShea was driving the sister Satria to Panizzi's car in Sanremo. Running with the team for the second IRC event in succession, the power steering pump in McShea's car seized ahead of SS1. The team has already begun a detailed analysis into the issue.



Quotes:
Gilles Panizzi said:
"I said before I started this event that I wanted to drive and to get to feel with the car. I have done that. This was not the competition for me, really, this was a longer time to test the car. We have made some changes from the start of the event and it felt better and better for me. This car has been born well, it's nice to drive, it has a nice balance and a good feeling. I feel I would like to be involved with the team and with the car. Under the right conditions, we can have a good future together for PROTON and Panizzi. After some time away from driving, it took me a while to get back into the rhythm of the rally. When Niall stopped so early, it was also difficult. We had to make sure we make the finish with one car, and our car ran without any technical problems. So, now, the time is here to sit down and talk about what we can do. This was a test event for us, it was not an event to judge the car or the possible new partnership. We know each other better now and we can talk more for the future."

Niall McShea said:
"As a driver, I don't think there can be anything more disappointing than not getting to the first stage, it was a terrible feeling. This was a big event for me, I really wanted to make it all happen in Italy. My co-driver and I had worked really hard in the recce and we had complete confidence in the notes and everything, the test before the event had gone well; okay, it had been in the dry and the event started in mixed conditions, but we were ready to adapt the car to that. It's a real shame, the car has huge potential. It was great to get the opportunity to work with Gilles in the team, though - he does have a lot of good ideas which can really take things forward."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"There's no getting away from the fact that this was a tough event for the team and for me on a personal level; I had to leave before the rally had begun for family reasons. Gilles achieved what he set out to, e drove the car for two days in what was, essentially, an extended test session. It was great to have him in the car and good for us to hear his views. He has given us a new direction for the car and we're ready to sit down and talk about the future. What was a real shame was that Niall didn't get into the event. His pre-event test had gone really well and he was full of confidence. Obviously, once we were down to one car, there was even more pressure on Gilles to get to the finish. Sanremo was not an event we were expecting to compete on, it was only slotted in after Indonesia was cancelled three weeks earlier, but we came here with a definite agenda for Gilles and we've gathered very valuable information for the future. "

Event data:
Round: 10/12, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Sanremo, Liguria, Italy
Stages: 11
Liaison distance: 245.60km
Competitive distance: 220.03km
Total distance: 465.63km
Conditions: mixed: rain and sunshine
Day one leader: Giandomenico Basso (I) Abarth
Winner: Paolo Andreucci (I) Peugeot

PANIZZI ENCOURAGED BY POSITIVE PROTON TEST

Three-time Rallye Sanremo winner Gilles Panizzi has been encouraged by his first taste of the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 at a test on roads similar to those on which round 10 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge will take place later this week.

Panizzi, who will make his debut for PROTON on the two-day Italian event, used the test to acquaint himself with the car and adjust some initial settings. His team-mate will be former Production Car World Champion Niall McShea, who also took part in the pre-event session.

The test took place in two locations on Sunday and will continue today (Monday), taking in both fast sections as well as slower and more technical sections, which are very representative of the conditions that the drivers will face when they start the rally on Friday. Conditions were dry and warm, enabling the PROTON team to carry out some useful preparation work as they attempt the legendary Rallye Sanremo for the second consecutive year.

Panizzi, who won in Sanremo between 2000 and 2002, started some initial set-up work while concentrating on familiarising himself with PROTON's S2000 challenger for the first time. "The base of the car seems very good," said the French asphalt ace. "It feels really compact, with good dimensions, and the balance of the car is very nice. I can see that there is really a lot of potential there and this has been a very pleasant surprise for me. Now we start work on making the set-up properly suited to me, which is the goal on Monday. I think I'm going to find something that suits me quite quickly."

The 45-year-old Frenchman, who celebrated his birthday with PROTON on Sunday night, will drive in Sanremo to give his detailed feedback on the car with a view to closer collaboration in the future.

"I'm not sure what my pace will be like on the rally as I've not driven for two years," said Panizzi. "We're not going to be able to make drastic adjustments to the car before the start of the rally, so it's something that we're going to have to play ourselves into on the event. But I really hope to use my experience to benefit the PROTON team and develop the car for the future."

Team principal Chris Mellors commented: "Even after just one day together so far, it's clear to see what a driver of Gilles' calibre and experience brings to the team. With the timescale that we are operating on before the rally, we obviously can't expect overnight miracles, but together with Gilles, we are working to put together a solid base for the future that will lead to the consistent improvement that we need, especially on such a competitive surface like asphalt."


McShea, who drove for PROTON on the recent Barum Czech Rally Zlin, was also pleased with the way that the pre-event test went. "We've found a development direction that could be useful for us," said the Northern Irishman. "I'm feeling more and more confident with the car, and from my point of view too it's great to have Gilles in the team. I'm confident that we can have a really good run and I'm feeling more motivated than ever to get the job done."

Rallye Sanremo gets underway on Friday afternoon with the first of 11 all-asphalt special stages, totalling 220 competitive kilometres. The rally finishes on Saturday afternoon.

GILLES PANIZZI joins PROTON for Rallye Sanremo bid

September 17th 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will include one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Sanremo Rally when it starts the legendary Italian asphalt event next week. Three-time Sanremo winner Gilles Panizzi, who shares this distinction with Miki Biasion and Didier Auriol, will form part of a two-car line-up with Niall McShea on the 10th round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The 44-year-old Panizzi has a wealth of experience both in Super 2000, where he has developed one of the most successful cars in the category, and on the World Rally Championship, where he triumphed on seven WRC events between 2000 and 2003. The Frenchman will be co-driven by Freddy Delorme.

Panizzi is joining the PROTON R3 Team in Sanremo in order to give the squad the benefit of his experience on a rally that he has made his own, and to highlight areas where the Satria Neo S2000 can benefit from further development. During the course of the two-day event, Panizzi and PROTON will evaluate the possibility of a longer-term collaboration to help propel the Malaysian manufacturer to the pinnacle of the sport.

Sanremo is characterised by slippery asphalt, changeable weather, and tight corners, which all test power, traction and grip. The event formed part of the World Rally Championship from 1973 to 2003, before being adopted by the IRC from 2006. The challenge however has never changed: making Sanremo one of the most specialised asphalt rallies of them all, where local experts traditionally dominate.

Quotes:
Gilles Panizzi said:
"I never expected to be here: in my head I was done with driving competitively a few years ago. But then the opportunity came up to be part of something completely new and use my experience to benefit a manufacturer trying to come up in the sport. We are both using this event to get to know each other, and if we each feel that the conditions are right at the end of it, then we will look at a longer-term collaboration. I'm considering this rally more as a test than a competitive event: it's been two years since I've driven so it's not realistic to expect to be on the pace straight away and I'm going to be surrounded by drivers who are a lot younger, hungrier and match-fit than me! What I can do is make a few suggestions to develop the car in the long run. I drove the PROTON very briefly in Britain and it felt like a very good car, a good base. Now we have a test, but this is just before the start of the rally, so there will not be the possibility of making any dramatic changes before we begin. We are just going to take each stage as it comes, as it's impossible to predict how we might get on. If we can see an improvement in the car and the times over the course of the rally, and if we get to the finish, then it will be a good achievement. I love coming to Sanremo as it's a fantastic rally that brings back many happy memories but there's certainly going to be no pressure this time, as we have no particular expectations. I always give a hundred percent and I've got a serious job to do but I'm also going to enjoy myself: it's always a huge pleasure to drive a rally car on these roads, particularly when you were not expecting to!"

Niall McShea said:
"It's great to be back in Sanremo. I have done this event twice before and always enjoyed it. And, of course, it's great to be back in the PROTON. The development in the car since I drove it last year and then on the Barum Rally in the summer is just amazing. Being in a team with Gilles Panizzi is obviously something completely new for me, he's a legend, everybody knows about Gilles' record in the World Rally Championship, so I'm hoping I can learn a little bit more from watching the way he sets the car up. It's going to be an incredible weekend."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"The opportunity to contest the Sanremo Rally only came up when the Indonesian Rally was cancelled. We put everything together very quickly and we're now looking forward to seeing what we can do against the IRC cars. The opportunity to work with Gilles was something we had first thought about at the beginning of the season. We looked at various possibilities, but it was only when Sanremo came up that we really started to get things moving. What can you say about Gilles Panizzi? He's an exceptional driver and one we're delighted to have on board. We got on very well when he came to see us in Britain this week and we're looking forward to establishing a long-term relationship off the back of Sanremo. Like Gilles says, we're not expecting a huge result here, this is a chance for him to acquaint himself with the car in order to take it forward next season. We know about the development roles Gilles has played in the past, not to mention the seven WRC rounds he's won, and that's why we are very happy to have him involved with PROTON. At the same time, it's great to have Niall in the other Satria Neo S2000. Niall's shown plenty of pace in the testing he's done recently. He's been to Sanremo before and he likes the event, so we're all excited about the rally ahead."

Event data:
Round: 10/12, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Sanremo, Liguria, Italy
Stages: 11
Liaison distance: 245.60km
Competitive distance: 220.03km
Total distance: 465.63km
Shakedown: Monte Ortigara-San Romolo (Thursday, 1200-1630)
Pre-event press conference: Hotel Lolli (Thursday, 1730)
Post-event press conference: Hotel Lolli (Saturday, 1630)
Time difference: Italy is GMT+1hrs

Event timetable:
Friday September 24
SS1 Coldirodi 1 (12.92km) 1334
SS2 Bignone 1 (10.62km) 1428
Service Sanremo 1518
SS3 Coldirodi 2 (12.92km) 1634
SS4 Apricale (17.53km) 1656
SS5 Bignone 2 (10.62km) 1723
Service Sanremo 1808
SS6 Ronde (44.00km) 2209
Parc Ferme Sanremo 2323

Saturday September 25
SS7 Ceppo 1 (29.56km) 0900
SS8 Teglia 1 (29.03km) 0945
Service Sanremo 1125
SS9 Bajardo (1.73km) 1300
SS10 Ceppo 2 (22.07km) 1314
SS11 Teglia 2 (29.03km) 1350
Finish Sanremo 1515
PROTON returns to IRC action


Barum Czech Rally Zlin preview
August 20, 2010


The PROTON R3 Rally Team returns to Intercontinental Rally Challenge competition on next week's Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

Niall McShea returns to the PROTON team for the first time since his sensational debut in the car on last year's World Rally Championship-qualifying Rally Ireland. McShea is joined in the team by reigning British Rally Champion Keith Cronin, one of the sport's most promising young drivers.

McShea and Cronin will join some of the toughest Super 2000 competition in the world when they arrive in the Czech city of Zlin for PROTON's second IRC appearance of the season. And both drivers are relishing the challenge ahead. Courtesy of his Rally Ireland outing last season, McShea is already well known to the team. The former Production Car World Rally Champion has also done some test and development work with PROTON through this season, helping to further enhance the car with which he impressed on Ireland's west coast last year, when he set a time faster than multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

Cronin's experience of Super 2000 is limited to an appearance in a privateer Fiat on last year's Rally of Scotland. But there's no doubting his speed. He took the coveted British title (previously won by some of the sport's greatest names like Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen and Hannu Mikkola) at his first attempt last season and has continued to impress with more rally wins in his title defence this year. Cronin arrives in Zlin straight from the latest round of the British series in Northern Ireland.

Barum Czech Rally Zlin is undoubtedly one of the toughest rallies on the IRC schedule. The region is one of micro climates where bright sunshine and 30-degree heat can turn to heavy downpours in no time, making tyre choices exceptionally difficult. Much of the route runs beneath the trees in forested sections, which also means inconsistent grip.

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the event, with more spectators than ever expected on what is already one of Europe's most popular rallies. And this year the quarter of a million fans expected in the south-eastern Czech city will be treated to the sight of Malaysia's finest rally cars being raced through the super-tricky stages by two of the sport's brightest lights.

The event opens with a test tailor-made for the fans. Before starting the main competition on Saturday morning, the crews will face a superspecial stage in the centre of Zlin. The drivers will tackle three laps of the city in the dark – a daunting prospect, particularly with the road being lined by concrete walls. After that, it's straight into two long days of sport, before the Sunday afternoon finish.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will undertake a two-day test in the Czech Republic on Sunday and Monday next week.

Quotes:

Niall McShea said:
"I'm absolutely delighted to be back with the PROTON team. The first time I drove this car, I knew it was something special. I just love driving it. It was awesome through the lanes in Ireland last year and, knowing the way the boys have been working on the car since last year and having driven it occasionally since then, I know it's going to be a special feeling again to get in it in the Czech Republic. Obviously, the competition in the IRC is incredibly tough, the drivers and cars out there are among the best around, and most of them have been competing regularly. I've been away from top-flight competition for a little while, but it won't take long to get back to full speed again. I don't really know anything about the event itself, all I do know is that only 20 per cent of the route is the same as it was last season, with the organisers bringing new stages or turning last year's stages around. This is going to help us: if everybody is making new pace notes, it tends to level the playing field a little bit. But I've also heard about the incredible atmosphere which goes with competition in that part of the world, I think we're in for a great weekend."

Keith Cronin said:
"I'm going to have quite a steep learning curve on this rally: I've never competed there before and I don't know too much about Super 2000, so there's some learning for me to do, but this is a great opportunity for me. I'm absolutely looking at the finish of the rally, I need to get through and make the most of the experience. But, having said that, this is rallying and it's never quite that simple. Coming into the event off the back of the Ulster Rally, the British Rally Championship round I will have competed on a week earlier, is good for getting me up to speed on asphalt rallies, but the cars are quite different in terms of driving style; it's not really going to help with working out how fast the PROTON can go around corners or how much later I can brake going into bends. With the PROTON I'll have a higher-revving engine and a sequential gearbox to work with, which will be great. Another big positive for me is my team-mate on this event: Niall McShea. I know Niall, I met him earlier this year and he's a good guy and very open. He tells it like it is and I'm sure he's going to help me out with certain areas of the car set-up."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"We're looking for a clean run on this rally. We've completed more engine work since the car last competed in Queensland [in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship] and we're looking forward to see how the developments are working in competition. We have a two-day test planned in Czech Republic just before the event, which will be crucial for the drivers to acclimatise themselves with the car. This is not a straightforward asphalt rally, so the cars do need some fine-tuning on the set-up side of things, the test will be perfect for that. Obviously, Niall has been in the car before, so he knows what it's all about, but this is Keith's first time with us. The key for him is to get to the finish, learn the car and just get some experience. But, we'd like Niall to have a bit of a go and see where we can get the car. I would think we should be looking at a top-10 result without asking for too many heroics. It's going to be a very interesting event."

Event data:
Round: 9/12, Intercontinental Rally Challenge
Based: Zlin, Czech Republic
Stages: 17
Liaison distance: 360.00km
Competitive distance: 265.26km
Total distance: 625.26km
Shakedown: Komarov (Friday August 27, 0800-1300)
Pre-event press conference: Rally HQ (Friday August 27, 1530)
Post-event press conference: Rally HQ (Sunday August 29, 1700)
Time difference: Czech Republic is GMT+1hrs

Event timetable:
Friday August 27
Ceremonial start, Zlin city square: 1700
SS1 SSS Zlin (9.36km): 2115

Saturday August 28
SS2 Biskupice (9.01km): 0948
SS3 Zadverice (14.95km): 1031
SS4 Semetin (11.71km): 1124
SS5 Trojak (29.09km): 1152
Service (Otrokovice): 1242
SS6 Biskupice (9.01km): 1455
SS7 Zadverice (14.95km): 1538
SS8 Semetin (11.71km): 1631
SS9 Trojak (29.09km): 1659
Service (Otrokovice): 1804

Sunday August 29
SS10 Halenkovice (24.90km): 0828
SS11 Kudlovice (11.39km): 0911
SS12 Velky Orechov (7.14km): 0959
SS13 Pindula (19.76km): 1027
Service (Otrokovice): 1207
SS14 Halenkovice (24.90km): 1245
SS15 Kudlovice (11.39km): 1328
SS16 Velky Orechov (7.14km): 1416
SS17 Pindula (19.76km): 1444
Finish, Zlin: 1524    

Next event:

International Rally of Queensland, Australia
(July 30-August 1)
Based on the Sunshine Coast, competitors in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship will not have far to go to the next round of the series, with roué four running just the other side of the Tasman Sea on Australia’s east coast. This event is running as an APRC round for the second season, but Australia has a long tradition of running APRC rounds in both Perth and Canberra. Based at the SurfAir hotel at Marcoola Beach, the event includes 20 stages – including a Friday night superspecial around the town of Caloundra, where the cars will start at 15-second intervals to ensure near non-stop action. The mainstay of the gravel competition will take place, as it has for the last 19 years on this event, in the forestry roads close to the town of Imbil, two hours north of Brisbane.

International Rally of Whangarei review
July 4, 2010

wang er eye shot1

The PROTON R3 Rally Team turned in precisely the confidence-boosting performance the team needed on this weekend’s third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the International Rally of Whangarei, with Alister McRae taking second in his Satria Neo S2000.

Both Scotsman McRae and his team-mate, Australian Chris Atkinson, were on the pace throughout the New Zealand event. Former British Rally Champion McRae only missed out on winning the Asia Pacific Rally Championship round after double New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon received a wildcard entry for the APRC element of the Kiwi competition.

Both McRae and Atkinson were driving with a finish and points as their main priority on the two-day event, which ran in dry sunny conditions on Saturday and heavy rain today (Sunday). But, despite a slightly conservative approach from the PROTO R3 Rally Team, both drivers were regularly in the top three APRC times, despite giving best in terms of local knowledge to all of the crews around them.

Atkinson was the quicker of the two Satrias out of the blocks on Saturday morning and the Queenslander kept his PROTON ahead of the McRae car until he was foiled by a freak failure of the alternator belt on the fourth test. Atkinson returned on Sunday, and returned in the best possible fashion with fastest time on today’s sodden opener.

McRae, however, kept up the pressure at the sharp end of the leaderboard and was rewarded with an entirely untroubled second place.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will now turn its attention to the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the International Rally of Queensland at the end of the month.
 
Quotes:
Alister McRae said:

“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 said:
“I love the roads down here in New Zealand and this car suited the roads 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 [in Ypres] and while we’d shown great stage times and Alister led and almost won in Malaysia, we needed to put some points 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) said:
“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.”

Event data:
Round: 3/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Whangarei, New Zealand
Stages: 16
Liaison distance: 470.46km
Competitive distance: 285.26km
Total distance: 755.72km
Conditions: 14 degrees, sunny then heavy rain
Day one leader: Hayden Paddon (NZ) Mitsubishi
Winner: Hayden Paddon (NZ) Mitsubishi

International Rally of Whangarei review
July 4, 2010

wang er eye shot1

The PROTON R3 Rally Team turned in precisely the confidence-boosting performance the team needed on this weekend’s third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the International Rally of Whangarei, with Alister McRae taking second in his Satria Neo S2000.

Both Scotsman McRae and his team-mate, Australian Chris Atkinson, were on the pace throughout the New Zealand event. Former British Rally Champion McRae only missed out on winning the Asia Pacific Rally Championship round after double New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon received a wildcard entry for the APRC element of the Kiwi competition.

Both McRae and Atkinson were driving with a finish and points as their main priority on the two-day event, which ran in dry sunny conditions on Saturday and heavy rain today (Sunday). But, despite a slightly conservative approach from the PROTO R3 Rally Team, both drivers were regularly in the top three APRC times, despite giving best in terms of local knowledge to all of the crews around them.

Atkinson was the quicker of the two Satrias out of the blocks on Saturday morning and the Queenslander kept his PROTON ahead of the McRae car until he was foiled by a freak failure of the alternator belt on the fourth test. Atkinson returned on Sunday, and returned in the best possible fashion with fastest time on today’s sodden opener.

McRae, however, kept up the pressure at the sharp end of the leaderboard and was rewarded with an entirely untroubled second place.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will now turn its attention to the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the International Rally of Queensland at the end of the month.
 
Quotes:
Alister McRae said:

“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 said:
“I love the roads down here in New Zealand and this car suited the roads 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 [in Ypres] and while we’d shown great stage times and Alister led and almost won in Malaysia, we needed to put some points 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) said:
“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.”

Event data:
Round: 3/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Whangarei, New Zealand
Stages: 16
Liaison distance: 470.46km
Competitive distance: 285.26km
Total distance: 755.72km
Conditions: 14 degrees, sunny then heavy rain
Day one leader: Hayden Paddon (NZ) Mitsubishi
Winner: Hayden Paddon (NZ) Mitsubishi

Rally Hokkaido review
May 23, 2010




The PROTON R3 Rally Team once again demonstrated the pace and potential of the Satria Neo S2000 on last weekend's Rally Hokkaido - with Alister McRae taking points after setting more fastest times among the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship competitors.

McRae and his team-mate Chris Atkinson were both taken by surprise when they saw the nature of the roads used by the Japanese round of the APRC. The pair had been expecting fast but flowing roads, but they were faced with super-fast stages with long straight after long straight - the kind of roads which were going to play straight into the hands of their rivals driving turbocharged cars. Atkinson admitted the nature of the roads had changed considerably from when he collected a podium result on the World Rally Championship round which visited this area in 2005.

Despite being as much as 30kph down on their rivals down the long straights (due to the difference in specification of the cars), McRae led the APRC competition after the opening stage on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, that was as good as it would get for the Scotsman. He suffered two punctures on the next stage, but drove heroically for 15 kilometres to contain the time loss to just 50 seconds, and then hit an unavoidable rock in the middle of the car's underbody protection on SS6. When his Satria began to leak oil from the impact, he switched the car off. McRae and his co-driver Bill Hayes returned today (Sunday) and finished a trouble-free third over the course of day two.

Atkinson continued to level his learning curve in both the PROTON and the Super 2000 formula, posting competitive times before his Satria suffered an engine problem on the fifth stage. Given the high-speed nature of the stages, Atkinson's car had been on the rev limiter in top gear for three kilometres in the test where the problem set in. The Australian also returned for more competition on Sunday, but retired before the finish. Now, Atkinson and co-driver Stephane Prevot are looking forward to the next event. The International Rally of Whangarei means a short hop across the Tasman Sea from his Queensland home to New Zealand for Atkinson.

Quotes:

Alister McRae said:

"We've taken points for the championship and we've shown how quick the car is again on this rally. I've been in and around this sport for a while now and I've seen these kind of times come and go for a team like MEM and the PROTON R3 Rally Team, it's the ebb and flow of rallying. One thing is for sure, as much as I have known for any team, this team deserves and has the result coming. The guys are working absolutely flat out and we are going to win very soon - and when we do, we'll all have earned it. But, when things aren't going your way, they're not going your way. We were leading APRC runner when we got two punctures. We drove 15 kilometres like that and did well to only lose 50 seconds or something like that. Unfortunately we then had to drive the short stage with a puncture as well. On the re-run of the long stage, we hit a rock right in the centre of the sumpguard. A few kilometres down the road the oil light came on and we switched it off. Nine times out of 10 you'd have got away with it, but, like I said, when your luck's not in...
"We ran well on Sunday, when we re-started, and again set a fastest time in the APRC runners. We were third fastest through Sunday, and that was driving sensibly. This car and this team is overdue a result; for the sake of our championship aspirations, we need that to come next time out in New Zealand."

Chris Atkinson said:
"The stages we used in Japan we quite different to the ones I remember from the World Rally Championship event, they had a lot more straights in them. We sat on the rev limiter in top gear for a minute on one stage - that's so frustrating when you know that we're doing 175kph and the Group N cars with their turbo are going at speeds up to 210kph. It's also not the most interesting of challenges to be driving on straight roads. We had an engine problem with the car on Saturday when we were not far off the lead of APRC. This sport can be tough sometimes. But New Zealand is coming and we'll be right back on it there - I'm already counting the days until we can launch the PROTON through those cambers: it's going to be awesome."

Datuk Razak (team director) said:
"Rally Hokkaido was Proton's first outing in Japan. I think it's fair to say we have made some friends there! The level of interest in the Satria Neo and the Super 2000 programme was fantastic. All of the time we had an incredible level of support from the local fans, there was even a group who flew up from Tokyo specifically to see our car, after they had heard so much about it. Our drivers Alister and Chris were in constant demand to sign autographs for their new-found fans; all-in-all Rally Hokkaido was a very positive experience for marketing and building the brand in Japan - and the car and drivers showed very good pace again."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"We came to Japan looking for the win and we haven't got it. I'm not going to start making excuses, that's not what we're about. Instead, we'll go away and further fine-tune what is clearly a very good car. Alister and Chris showed what the PROTON is capable of again here in Japan; Alister was leading the APRC standings after the first proper stage on Saturday. Nobody is working harder than us to win rallies and, at some point, our bad luck is going to turn around."

Event data:

Round: 2/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Makubetsu, Tokachi
Stages: 18
Liaison distance: 722.67km
Competitive distance: 220.97km
Total distance: 946.49km
Conditions: 15 degrees, overcast
Day one leader: Toshi Arai (J) Subaru
Winner: Toshi Arai (J) Subaru

Excellent Proton debut for Tom Cave on home soil

Teenage rally driver Tom Cave enjoyed an excellent first outing in his Proton Satria Neo Super2000 this weekend on the Plains Rally, the fourth round of the BTRDA series. The 18 year-old was competing in a four-wheel drive car for the first time and was delighted to set a string of top five stage times, finish sixth overall and second in class N4.

After several tests in the Proton, Tom knew that the only way to gauge the work so far was to actually compete and the Plains Rally, run close to his home in Aberdyfi, is renowned as one of the best in the series.

He and stand-in co-driver Shaun O’Gorman started very well but the early promise was to be hindered slightly, as he was held up on the first stage of the event for 20 seconds by a car ahead which had spun and was finding it difficult to clear the road. As it transpired, this time loss would prove decisive in the final result.

The second stage went well while the youngster found the third, the Pantperthog test, was trickier than expected and he was only ninth fastest.

The team made several set-up changes to the car at the first service, including adjustments to the ride height and damper settings and the benefits were immediately clear, as Tom was fifth-fastest on the following Hafren test.

He improved his pace, setting the third-fastest time on the second run of Gartheiniog and fourth-fastest on Cwmcelli, which saw lots of loose gravel on the surface.

However, it was the final stage of the event where he shone, setting the second-fastest time outright, behind only the fearsome Peugeot-Cosworth of Andy Burton and beating World Rally Cars in the process.

Tom picked up an erroneous two-minute penalty early in the event, when he was given an incorrect time but O’Gorman dealt with the problem quickly and efficiently.

By the time the crew arrived at the finish ramp, they were sixth overall and second in class N4, by just 15 seconds, Therefore, without the time loss on the first stage when they were held up, Tom predicts he could have won the class and finished certainly fifth, potentially fourth overall, a remarkable achievement for the youngster in his 4WD competition debut.

Commenting after the event, Tom said; “What a fantastic way to start with the Proton. This was an amazing event and I’m absolutely delighted with the result. Of course, I’m also a little gutted that it could possibly have been better had we not been held up on the first stage but the pace and potential of the car are clear for all to see.

“I think there are so many positives to take away from this weekend. The pace of the car was spot-on, I felt very at-home with it and while I’m understanding how to get the best from it all the time, I’m very pleased that we were able to show good pace at this early stage. The Davies Motorsport team worked very well, as did Shaun, who not only delivered the notes perfectly, also dealt with the rogue penalty very quickly and perhaps most importantly, the Proton ran faultlessly all day.

“This has given me a huge confidence boost for the next event. Up until this weekend, the Proton in competition was a complete unknown for me. The testing we have done has gone well but you never know how well until you actually compete and it looks like we have been heading in the right direction."

“I realise that there is still a huge amount to learn, both about the car, how to drive it and how to adapt to varying conditions but I feel much more confident about tackling three-day events after a result like this.”

Tom’s next event will be the Severn Valley Stages, based in Builth Wells over the weekend of 3-6 June. He has opted to contest this event instead of Rally d’Italia to gain more experience of the Proton before joining the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Rally Ypres at the end of June.

PROTON to start IRC campaign on Geko Ypres Rally


PROTON R3 Rally Team news
May 19, 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will start its Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign on next month’s Geko Ypres Rally.

The British-based MEM team which prepares and runs the official Satria Neo S2000s will send two cars to the classic two-day Belgian event which is rated as one of the best asphalt rallies in the world. The PROTON R3 Rally Team line up for its first IRC appearance of the year will remain the same as for this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship: Scotsman Alister McRae and Australian Chris Atkinson.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team is currently in Japan preparing for the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Hokkaido, which gets underway on Friday evening.

McRae contested the final round of last year’s IRC series with PROTON, collecting the team’s best result so far by finishing second overall on the Rally of Scotland after a trouble-free run in the Satria Neo S2000.

Quotes:

Alister McRae said
:
“Ypres is an exceptional event. The stages are legendary in Europe and it has to be one of the best-supported rallies in the world; the locals are all really big fans of the sport - it’s always a great atmosphere. The roads in Belgium can be really difficult, though. There are some big ditches at the side of the road which seem to be able to swallow a car whole! The other factor on the Ypres Rally is the weather, it can be prone to changing very quickly - coming from Scotland I’m pretty well used to that! Starting out IRC campaign in Ypres is good news, it’s a very high-profile event and, coming a little bit later next month, it will give us the opportunity to get some asphalt testing in with the Satria Neo S2000.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“It’s no secret that we had looked at starting our IRC programme in Sardinia, but we’ve decided to go for Ypres instead. If we had gone to Olbia with the car, it would have seriously restricted the amount of asphalt testing we’d have been able to do with the car before Belgium. Having seen the way we’ve been able to develop the car on the gravel with the extra loose-surface testing over the winter, we felt it made more sense to focus on preparing the cars and drivers for Ypres, which is undoubtedly one of the classic European events. The focus of this season is the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and, after leading and running so well last time out in Malaysia, we’re looking for a win in Japan this week. At the same time, the IRC is probably the most competitive series in the world for Super 2000 cars and by extension a great place to show the pace of the PROTON - and that’s what we’ll be doing in Ypres and on a programme of events later in the season.”     

Rally Hokkaido preview
May 17, 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team has arrived in Japan for the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship – Rally Hokkaido – which starts from Makubetsu on Friday (May 21) evening.

After stunning the opposition with a string of fastest times and the rally lead on last month’s opening round in Malaysia, PROTON drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson have vowed to come back even harder on this week’s second event in the of the seven-round series.

McRae, co-driven by Australian Bill Hayes, led the event with a brilliant drive in some of the hottest conditions he has ever had to cope with. McRae’s supreme fitness endured this stern test and, just as he his lead was beginning to look comfortable, his Satria Neo S2000 suffered a minor engine fault. Atkinson ended his debut event for the PROTON R3 Rally Team fourth in the championship standings after an extremely promising start. After the tight, twisty and technical stages in Malaysia, both men are ready to let the MEM-built PROTON fly on the sweeping gravel roads of Japan’s northernmost island.

PROTON is no stranger to success at the highest level of global motorsport, having won the 2002 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.

Rally Hokkaido is one of the most popular rounds of the APRC. It’s not hard to see why. The local population of Makubetsu and Obihiro, the areas of Japan’s Tokachi region where the rally runs, turn out in force to celebrate and support the rally’s arrival, turning this event into a noisy and colourful carnival of motorsport. Such is the popularity of the sport in this region, a 50,000-strong crowd for the ceremonial start is a regular occurrence.

Tokachi is known for extreme temperatures, with an annual temperature range of 60 degrees Celsius. The record low winter temperature for the area is -38.2 degrees, while the opposite end of the scale is a July high of 37.8 degrees. The average for this time of the year is around 18 degrees with rain possible.

The stages on the event run to the north-west of Makubetsu, except the exceptionally popular Obihiro spectator stage next to the Kita Aikoku service park. This 1.20-kilometer test opens proceedings one hour after the ceremonial start on Friday evening and then runs a further three times during the rally.

After such a strong start in Malaysia, all eyes will be on former British Rally Champion McRae in Japan, but the Scotsman, who now lives in Western Australia, admits his fellow PROTON driver Chris Atkinson is likely to be right up there setting the pace with him on Rally Hokkaido.

Atkinson, co-driven by Belgian Stephane Prevot, has a strong record in Japan. On his first trip to the World Rally Championship qualifier which also ran across these roads, he won his class by an astonishing 10 minutes in 2004. Twelve months on from that result and Atkinson was celebrating his first ever WRC podium, taking third place for the official Subaru team. Atkinson then collected two fourth positions in the next three editions of the event.    

McRae and Atkinson will test the Satria Neo S2000 in Japan on Wednesday afternoon, before conducting a two-day recce of the route on Thursday and Friday morning.

Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
“I have never competed in Japan before, so I’ve only got a rough idea of what to expect. I’ve watched some footage from Rally Japan and a lot of the in-car, so this gives you a good flavour of the stages to come. They look quite fast in places, but really narrow as well. They don’t seem to flow too much. I would say the key to this event is going to be getting an accurate set of notes from the recce. The big thing for us in Japan is that this event really should suit the car more than Malaysia did – and we led that rally, which shows the pace we’ve got in the PROTON. The one thing we shouldn’t have in Japan is the same kind of fierce heat we felt in Malaysia, which will make the car much more comfortable. I think our big competition here is going to be Katsu Taguchi. He won the opening round in Malaysia and, this being his local event, he’s done it a great number of times. The result we’re after for PROTON is two podiums, with Chris [Atkinson, team-mate] or myself on the top step.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“I’ve got fond memories of Japan; it’s the place where I scored my first podium, taking third place on my first visit there in the Impreza WRC in 2005. The stages are good. They’re fast and smooth in places, but they are quite technical. There’s a lot of the road running under the trees which can make it hard to see the precise line you want to take through the corner. You do need very accurate pace notes on this event. The last rally in Malaysia was my first real time in the car and, as such, I was still getting used to my new surroundings. In Japan this week, I’ll be more used to the car and I’ll be looking to push harder and see what we can do. The PROTON felt fantastic last time out – and that was on stages which didn’t really suit the Super 2000 car – so I can’t wait to get it into Japan to see what we can do. I’ve always like rallying in this part of the world. The people are all really enthusiastic towards the sport and friendly and the food is fantastic. All in all, I’m really looking forward to Rally Hokkaido and, most of all, to getting the result which everybody at PROTON and MEM deserve.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We’re looking forward to a good weekend in Japan. We’ve done some more work with the car since the opening round in Malaysia and we’ve made some more good steps. Alister’s pace in Malaysia was fantastic and we’re looking forward to more of the same this week. Chris is getting quicker and quicker in the car all the time. It’s easy to forget Malaysia was literally his first real mileage in the PROTON. I’d expect him to be right up there at the sharp end in Japan, given that he has such a strong record on this event. Every kilometer Chris does in the car is levelling his learning curve. I think we have the makings of a good result in Hokkaido, but at the same time we have to remember there’s going to be some strong competition there, not only from the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, but also from the local drivers who know this event well.”

Event data:
Round: 2/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Makubetsu, Hokkaido
Stages: 18
Liaison distance: 722.67km
Competitive distance: 220.97km
Total distance: 946.49km
Shakedown: Obihiro superspecial (Friday May 21, 1200-1300)
Pre-event press conference: Hotel Grand Vrio (Friday May 21, 1500)
Post-event press conference: Hotel Grand Vrio (Sunday May 23, 1740)
Time difference: Malaysia is GMT+9hrs

Event timetable:
Friday May 21
Ceremonial start – Kita Aikoku               1800
SS1 Obihiro 1 (1.20km)                        1900

Saturday May 22
SS2 Sipirkakim Reverse 1 (25.12km)      0805
SS3 Kunneywa Reverse 1 (25.25lkm)      0838
SS4 Rikubetsu 1 (2.73km)                     0925
Service – Rikubetsu                              0930
SS5 Sipirkakim Reverse 2 (25.12km)      1113
SS6 Kunneywa Reverse 2 (25.25lkm)      1146
SS7 Rikubetsu 2 (2.73km)                     1233
Service – Rikubetsu                              1238
SS8 Sipirkakim Reverse 1 (25.12km)      1421
SS9 Kunneywa Reverse 1 (25.25lkm)      1454
SS10 Obihiro 2 (1.20km)                      1807
SS11 Obihiro 3 (1.20km)                      1816
Service – Kita Aikoku                            1821

Sunday May 23
SS12 Otofuke 1 (6.29km)                      0632
SS13 Ashoro 1 (12.73km)                     0757
SS14 Honbetsu 1 (10.78km)                 0901
SS15 Otofuke 2 (6.29km)                      0952
Service – Kita Aikoku                            1037
SS16 Ashoro 2 (12.73km)                     1325
SS17 Honbetsu 2 (10.78km)                 1429
SS18 Obihiro 4 (1.20km)                      1555
Finish – Kita Aikoku                              1630 

Malaysian Rally review
April 25, 2010

The PROTON R3 Rally Team gave the thousands of Malaysian rally fans plenty to cheer about on this weekend’s Malaysian Rally, which finished in Johor this afternoon. Both Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson set fastest times in their Satria Neo S2000s, with McRae just missing out on victory in some of the toughest conditions ever. Atkinson ended the event just off the podium in fourth place.

Despite never having competed on the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship before, Alister gave PROTON the dream start to the nation’s biggest car rally by leading the event after the opening stage. The Scotsman remained at the sharp end of the leaderboard throughout Saturday and moved back into the lead with another fastest time on SS6. From then on, despite torrential rain and soaring temperatures, McRae controlled the event from the front.

After leading overnight, the former British Rally Champion further extended his advantage on the opening two stages this morning, looking comfortable and apparently guiding his PROTON towards victory in Malaysia. Unfortunately for McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes, an engine problem at the start of today’s third stage meant they would go no further. Massively disappointed, McRae refused to be downbeat about the event and feels the Malaysian Rally has marked the PROTON out as the car to beat in this year’s APRC series.

McRae’s team-mate Atkinson showed similar commitment and speed in the sister Satria. Despite never having competed in a Super 2000 car before, the Queenslander and his co-driver Stephane Prevot were soon up to speed: they collected their first fastest time for PROTON on the fifth test. More was to come from Chris as he maintained that top-of-the-table pace until the end of the day.

Unfortunately for Atkinson, he’d suffered an electrical problem with the car on Saturday’s opening test, which left him playing catch up for the remainder of the day. Chris recovered to fourth place, collecting valuable APRC points for both himself and PROTON. McRae collected three points for being the fastest driver through the opening day.

Like McRae, this was a new event for Atkinson, but the next round (Rally Hokkaido, Japan – May 22/23) is more familiar territory for the Australian star and he’s heading to the APRC’s northernmost event determined to put his PROTON on the top step of the podium.
 
Quotes:

Alister McRae said:
“I don’t think I have ever seen so much enthusiasm for a rally programme as I saw in Malaysia in the run up to last week’s event. It was incredible. There was so much support from the PROTON factory, the Malaysian government and all the people out there. It was a genuine honour to be driving the car on PROTON’s home event. And even better, we were setting the pace and leading the rally. I really thought we were heading for that dream result; PROTON and the MEM team deserved to win the Malaysian Rally. The car was sensational, a real credit to all the boys at MEM who have worked tirelessly through the winter to make the Satria Neo S2000 the quickest car in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. We had a small problem with the fan on the engine yesterday [Saturday], but it’s testament to the engine that, even in the harshest and hottest conditions I’ve ever competed in, this engine just kept on running. Maybe the problem we had on the third stage today [Sunday] was related to that. The conditions really were that tough. I’m a Scot, so I’m used to torrential rain – but it’s usually 35 degrees cooler when it’s raining where I come from! There are so many positives to take away from Malaysia, it’s just made me more excited about the season to come. The APRC title is there for us to win and we’ll be back on track in Japan next month.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“I can’t tell you how good it is to be back in a rally car again! And what a rally car! The Satria is amazing, a real driver’s car. I hadn’t done much testing before the start of the event and I’d been away from racing for a year and a half, so it was fantastic to get to shakedown and get through some corners. Shakedown was good for us, it started dry and then poured with rain, so we got a good idea of what the car was going to do in both conditions. We had an electrical problem on the first stage which was a bit of a blow, but we were bang on it for the next one. This event was about getting a result for PROTON, once we’d lost our chance of winning, so I was driving with that in the back of my mind. The conditions were hard going on this event. I remember doing the Jordan Rally at 45 degrees and thinking that was tough, but this was much harder than that. The good thing about the Satria is that you really have to work at it to get the best out of it, which is fantastic, but maybe not quite so fantastic when it’s so hot and humid in the car! As you progressed through the stage, you could feel the heat soaking into you, but there was nothing to do. The iced towels at the end of each stage have never felt so good! There’s definitely more to come from me and the PROTON, but I’m massively encouraged at the start we’ve made in Malaysia. Okay, the result isn’t what we wanted, but I’m rallying again and soon we’ll be winning again. One more thing, I want to say a big thank you to Chris and the guys at MEM for the work they did, the car was awesome, and to everybody at PROTON. There was a real buzz about the factory in Malaysia and it’s going to be a special feeling for us all when we turn this potential into rally wins.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“The car and the drivers both showed great speed and commitment on this rally. As we expected, the conditions were really tough – with temperatures running above 40 degrees, but the guys got on with the job. We set plenty of fastest times, but that win just eluded us. It’s disappointing, bitterly disappointing, we badly wanted this win, but the perfect story for PROTON wasn’t to be. However, what we did this weekend was show just what a fantastic car we have with the Satria – and what a great pair of drivers. Alister had the event under control, he was managing a good lead this morning when the engine problem occurred at the start line of the third stage. And Chris showed just what he was capable of with fastest times and a great drive on his first outing in the car. Chris would certainly have been challenging for the victory had it not been for his electrical problem on the first stage. Now, we move on and we prepare for round two, where PROTON will be hungrier than ever for victory.”

Event data:
Round: 1/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Kota Tinggi, Johor
Stages: 16
Liaison distance: 353.14km
Competitive distance: 236.42km
Total distance: 589.56km
Conditions: 40 degrees, overcast and heavy rain
Day one leader: Alister McRae (GB) PROTON
Winner: Katsu Taguchi (J) Mitsubishi

Next event:
Rally Hokkaido, Japan (May 22/23)

Based in Makubetsu on Hokkaido, the most northerly of Japan’s islands, the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship is quite a different event from the opener. The stages are generally faster than the tight and twisty tests used in Malaysia this weekend. The temperature will be lower and the road surface more akin to a European forest rally. Chris Atkinson has driven on these roads previously, contesting the event when it ran as Japan’s round of the World Rally Championship, but Alister McRae has never competed in Hokkaido before.

Malaysian Rally preview
April 19, 2010

PROTON R3 Rally Team Satria Neo S2000 driver Chris Atkinson starts this week’s Malaysian Rally (April 23-25) as the top seed on the opening round of this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

The Johor-based event, which gets underway with a ceremonial start tonight (Friday), signals the beginning of PROTON’s season-long challenge for the Asia Pacific title, which the Malaysian manufacturer last won in 2004.
 
Joining Atkinson and his co-driver Stephane Prevot in Proton’s two-pronged attack on the APRC are Alister McRae and Bill Hayes, who start the two-day event at number three in their Satria.

Fans of rallying across the world will need no introduction to PROTON’s two megastar drivers. Atkinson finished fifth in the 2008 World Rally Championship with the Subaru World Rally Team, while former British Rally Champion Alister McRae was a WRC regular with the Hyundai and Mitsubishi factory teams. Both drivers are from the Asia Pacific region, with Atkinson a native Queenslander and

McRae, originally from Scotland, now living in Perth, Western Australia.
The PROTON Satria Neo S2000s Atkinson and McRae will use in Malaysia have made the longest trip east, coming from the British base of world title-winning preparation firm MEM. The Satria is a two-litre, naturally aspirated, rally-bred machine. The engine produces close to 300bhp, while the four-wheel drive transmission offers total traction from its highly developed drivetrain.

Neither McRae nor Atkinson have contested the Malaysian Rally previously, but both have experience of rallying in the Far East. The conditions are expected to be hot and humid on this opening APRC round – with rain anticipated at some stage on Saturday or Sunday. The roads used in competition have a clay base, which means they will become treacherously slippery when the rain arrives. The teams will cut blocks of tread out of the tyres in an effort to get the mud out of the tyre. Cutting the tyres might improve grip, but the flip side of that coin is that the more the tyre is cut, the less rigidity it maintains when it heats up. Getting this complicated compromise right is one of the key elements to stacking up a big score on round one of the APRC.  

Quotes:
Chris Atkinson said:

“I’m so excited about joining Proton for this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and it’s going to be a fantastic season in the Satria Neo S2000. We did a test in the car earlier this week and we’ll obviously complete some set-up work on the car at the pre-event shakedown. It’s a great honour for me to start as the number one car – but the most important thing is to make sure we are still in the number one position when it comes to Sunday afternoon. Not competing for a while has made me really hungry to get back out there and onto the stages. I haven’t done this event before, but I have competed in Asia – when I did the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in 2003 and 2004, so I have a good idea of what to expect from the heat and the conditions. It’s going to be tough, but Stephane [Prevot, co-driver] and I are more than ready for the challenge ahead – and we know the Proton is up to the job.”

Alister McRae said:
“I did three rallies in the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 at the end of last season and, straight away, I knew the car was competitive. Now we have a whole year of competition ahead of us, it’s going to be great. I’ve spent much of the winter season training for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship; my co-driver Bill Hayes is a semi-professional cyclist, so we’ve been doing loads of work on the bike. I’m in better shape now than I have ever been throughout my career, so I’m not concerned about the hot conditions we’re going to face in Malaysia this week. I think we’re probably in for some rain on the event, which will make the roads really slippery. One of the key elements to success on this event will be getting the tyres right. We don’t just need to make the right selection of tyre, we need to make sure we have made the right cut into the tyres. I’m really looking forward to working with PROTON, MEM and Chris [Atkinson] this season.”

Event data:
Round: 1/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Kota Tinggi, Johor
Stages: 16
Liaison distance: 353.14km
Competitive distance: 236.42km
Total distance: 589.56km
Shakedown: Tai Tak Plantations (Thursday April 22, 1400-1700)
Pre-event press conference: Grand Paragon Hotel (Friday April 23, 1500)
Post-event press conference: Grand Paragon Hotel (Sunday April 25, 1700)
Time difference: Malaysia is GMT+8hrs

Event timetable:
Friday April 23
Ceremonial start: Angsana Shopping Complex, 2100

Saturday April 24
SS1 Tai Tak – Tunnel Left (14.62km)      0808hrs
SS2 Tai Tak – Tunnel Right (19.41km)   0834
SS3 Tai Tak – Pipeline (24.25km)          0917
SS4 Tai Tak – Fish Pond (17.69km)        0953
Service – Angsana Shopping Complex    1118
SS5 Tai Tak – Tunnel Left (14.62km)      1311
SS6 Tai Tak – Tunnel Right (19.41km)   1337
SS7 Tai Tak – Pipeline (24.25km)          1420
SS8 Tai Tak – Fish Pond (17.69km)        1456
Service – Angsana Shopping Complex    1621

Sunday April 25
SS9 Tai Tak – Saujana (5.54km)            0746hrs
SS10 Tai Tak – Court House (10.95km)  0814
SS11 Tai Tak – Lukut (11.49km)            0837
SS12 Tai Tak – Mawai (14.26km)           0902
Service – Angsana Shopping Complex    1032
SS13 Tai Tak – Saujana (5.54km)          1220
SS14 Tai Tak – Court House (10.95km)  1248
SS15 Tai Tak – Lukut (11.49km)            1311
SS16 Tai Tak – Mawai (14.26km)           1336
Finish – Angsana Shopping Complex      1600

 

2010 Preview

The time between the end of last season and the beginning of the 2010 season will provide MEM with valuable breathing space in which to continue the ongoing technical design and development of the Proton S2000 car. Proton, as a manufacturer, has demonstrated their intention to continue with the S2000 Programme during 2010 and beyond. MEM has an exciting programme with a two car team in both APRC and IRC and is looking forward to a continued programme of development with Proton’s valuable support.

MEM are also intending to secure the continued services of Alister McRae following our successful team partnership last year. Confirmation, and further details will be posted soon.

MEM Proton Team tests for 2010

The MEM Proton Team continued its preparations for the 2010 season by putting three leading drivers through their paces during a test in Wales recently.


Finns Anton Alen and Matti Rantanen, together with Belgian Francois Duval drove a Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 at the Sweet Lamb chop test facility in mid-Wales.
Chris Mellors, who runs MEM, the factory Proton team, said: “We had three great drivers who gave us some very positive and valuable feedback. From our point of view one of the most encouraging things is that we put the equivalent of a world championship rally distance on the car during the 2 day 350km test, without having to do any work to it.” As part of the ongoing development of the car, the visit to Sweet Lamb was primarily for engine and transmission testing and evaluation.

Alen, who is considering Proton as one of his options for next season’s IRC, said: “The car felt very stable and the engine had a really good spread of torque right from the bottom all the way to the top.”

Unfortunately, a couple of days after the test, Duval slipped on some ice at home in Belgium, and broke two vertebrae in his back. He is expected to recover fully, but will be out of action for at least eight weeks. The Team wish him a speedy recovery.

MEM Proton S2000 2009 Season Review

During 2009, the development of the Proton S2000 car continued with a programme of events, designed to provide MEM with the best possible feedback.

The core of the programme was to be the entry of seven rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) beginning with Rally Ypres in June which saw Driver Guy Wilks set several competitive stage times before ending the rally after leaving the road.



The following event in July, Rally Russia proved to be much more successful with the crew securing a very commendable fourth place overall on the first of the IRC gravel events we entered during the year.



Late July saw the team travel to Madeira for what was to be a very competitive tarmac round of the IRC. Guy Wilks and Co-driver Phil Pugh managed to finish the event in 10th overall place after a trouble free weekend. Unfortunately, the team did not complete the next event, Rally Barum, after experiencing engine failure as a result of a software problem. Both cars were withdrawn after the first stage to prevent further damage before the problem was resolved.







The first of the two September events was Rally Asturias in Northern Spain. Again, the crew posted several competitive stage times climbing up to 5th overall at one stage before accidentally leaving the road dropped them down the list of finishers. Italy hosted the following event in San Remo which again proved to be a very competitive event with Kris Meeke securing the Championship Title for 2009. Guy and Phil finished 11th overall with the car making another trouble free run. Following the event, Guy and MEM decided amicably, to go separate ways with Guy chasing a drive with another manufacturer, and MEM securing the driving services of Alister McRae.



The final event of the season welcomed McRae back to his homeland as Rally Scotland hosted it’s first IRC round during November. Despite the weather taking a turn for the worst, Alister drove the Proton S2000 car to an eventual 2nd place overall delighting the fans, and providing an excellent finish to the year’s development programme.







MEM and Guy Wilks would like to thank all those involved in trying to stop the flames that engulfed the Proton S2000 car at the weekend.

Report to follow.

pirelli rally 2009
Pirelli rally 2009

pirelli rally 2009

Pirelli rally 2009

pirelli rally 2009
Pirelli rally 2009


As part of the ongoing development of the Proton Super 2000,
a car was entered in this year’s Rally Ireland driven by former
PWRC champion Niall McShea.

rally ireland 2009
A stunning start for the Proton Satria - 3rd after first stage.

The car caused quite a stir by taking an unbelievable 3rd fastest time
on stage one, ahead of WRC champion Sebastian Loeb in the
Citroen C4. As a result of the adverse weather conditions, a minor electrical fault caused the car to retire on day one, but only after securing 5th place overall on stage 2.

rally ireland 2009
Weather conditions took a turn for the worst by the end of the first day.

After replacing the faulty component, Niall rejoined the rally under super rally rules on day two. Car and driver continued to take top
ten stage times dispelling the rumour that a Super 2000 car would
not be competitive at the top level. Despite retiring from the rally on Stage 14 after leaving the road as a result of standing water, Niall
was convinced there was much more to come from the car.

rally ireland 2009

Although finishing the rally proved illusive, the Proton Super 2000’s pace could conceivably have resulted in a top 6 place overall. Having proved competitive against turbocharged WRC cars, MEM are
convinced the Proton has a very promising future at the forefront of world rallying



Autosport show, NEC Birmingham - 8th - 11th January 2009

The MEM Proton stand at this year’s Autosport Show attracted many visitors during the four opening days. Two Proton Super 2000 cars were on display together with several Proton Satria Neo production cars kindly supplied by Proton UK.

On the opening day, Datuk Razak Dawood announced the official support of the Super 2000 project on behalf of Proton Malaysia. In addition to attracting admiring glances, the Proton Super 2000 car generated considerable interest from both potential customers and the world’s media during the two trade days.

The stand continued to attract attention during the weekend when the general public were given the opportunity to see the motorsport industy showcasing their products.





Despite withdrawing from the rally on day 3, the MEM Proton Satria Neo S2000 car met with an enthusiastic response from both the rally fraternity and rally fans alike.

rally antibes 2008

After pre event testing on Thursday, driver Bryan Bouffier continued to express his confidence in the car, and its ability to be competitive. Day 1 of the rally saw Bryan and co-driver Xavier Panseri in 6th place overall, despite collecting time penalties as a result of teething problems during the day. At the start of the second day, the team decided to address these problems with the aim of rejoining on the 3rd day. However, as day 3 arrived, the decision was made to withdraw from the rally in order to concentrate on the issues fully.

Having considered the event to be a further part of the testing programme, MEM was not surprised to experience some problems with the car which would be addressed during final development.

rallye antibes 2008

 

Bryan Bouffier to pilot the Satria Neo this weekend...

Following a successful programme of testing in the Ardeche region of France, the MEM Proton Super 2000 car will make its competition debut this weekend on the 43rd Rally d’Antibes.
Click here for the ERC rally website

a stunning backdrop for the 2008 Antibes Rallye - cote d'Azur
Starting from Antibes on the French Cote dAzur, the rally is the last asphalt event of the European Championship. The race has been run on the European calendar since 1972, taking place between the 17th and 19th of October. Being an asphalt event, the rally will feature three days of demanding stages in the French Alps.

off to the shops!!


The car will be driven by French driver Bryan Bouffier, with co driver Xavier Panseri, following their recent success in securing a second successive Polish Rally Championship. Both Bryan and the MEM team considered the event to be the ideal opportunity to evaluate the car under competitive conditions.
Click here for Bryan's website



alps test 2008

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