PROTON’s Per Gunnar Andersson arrives for a homecoming this weekend to lead the Satria Neo S2000 to its maiden Swedish Rally for round two of the 2012 FIA Super World Rally Championship (S-WRC). Andersson’s preparations in the Satria-Neo S2000 couldn’t have gone better, with a Super 2000 victory on the KNA Rally Finnskog in Norway yesterday. With 42 entries starting, he not only finished first against the Ford and Skoda teams of the same category, but also in fourth overall in a rally that also included the Citroen and Ford World Rally Teams.
Rally Sweden will also see the return of Scottish veteran Alister McRae to the World Rally Championship circuit. McRae was crowned last year’s Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) winner alongside co-driver Bill Hayes.
“We’ve put the disappointment in Monte Carlo behind us. It’s quite obvious that the Satria Neo S2000 has the pace and performance, and we’re back in Sweden to prove this point,” said Andersson whose charge to victory in the SWRC category in Monte Carlo was halted by an engine fire three special stages to the finish.
“Rally Sweden is an incredibly exciting event which will see competitors battling it out on ice and snow for what is a proper winter rally. We have a competitive package, and alongside experience as well as local knowledge, we’re confident the Satria Neo S2000 will live up to challenge.”
Andersson last won Rally Sweden in 2010 competing in the S-WRC category. He also led the rally last year in a Ford Fiesta during the opening stage, but was forced into early retirement when he rolled his car. Andersson had also won in Sweden in 2006 contesting in the Junior World Rally Championsip (JWRC).
For McRae, returning for a stint in the S-WRC represents a big comeback. He has competed in Rally Sweden seven times, finishing as high as fifth overall and last drove in the event in 2004.
“It’s fantastic to be back. Rally Sweden will also give us a chance to test the 2012 Satria Neo S2000 ahead of the start of this year’s APRC,” said McRae.
Rally Sweden has attracted a total of 85 entries and will be contested over 24 special stages covering a competitive distance of 360km.
The rally begins with a 1.9km super special stage in Karlstad on Thursday and continues on Friday with nine special stages which will see competitors driving through classic Norwegian stages in the town of Kongsvinger.
Day three of the rally will see drivers tackling eight special stages and crossing the county border to Dalarna to run classic routes in Sagen and Fedriksberg, while the fourth and final day of rallying will be run over six special stages in the area of Hagfors.
“It has been a phenomenal start to the year for PROTON in S-WRC, and we’re looking forward to keeping the momentum going strong. There is no time for disappointments, just results and this is precisely what we will be focused on in Rally Sweden,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of Proton Motorsports.
PROTON is due to compete in five of the seven S-WRC rounds in 2012. The S-WRC is a companion series to the World Rally Championship and is driven on the same special stages. It is limited to production-based cars homologated under the Super 2000 rules and was first introduced in 2010.
“In Monte Carlo, PROTON produced some incredible results in the face of adversity and we bring this optimism and fighting spirit to Sweden.” said John Chacko, Director of Group Marketing, Branding and Motorsports. “Rally Sweden is a rare occasion you will see a Proton car being driven on Scandinavian roads as much as it will be another milestone for PROTON in our pursuit of excellence and to create greater brand awareness globally.”
words & pix: PROTON