PROTON rallied to a strong second place overall on the opening day of what has played out to be a challenging 2012 International Rally of Queensland.
What began as a two-car assault has since been reduced to only defending APRC champion Alister McRae currently in the running for a strong finish after PROTON team mate PG Andersson was forced to concede valuable time due to an oil leak. Andersson was second overall up until the sixth special stage. He managed to stop the oil leak in the Satria Neo S2000 to rejoin the rally but has a lot of ground to make up from ninth position.
Leg 1 of the rally consisted of 11 special stages, with the final day of rallying to be decided over eight special stages.
PROTON meanwhile, continues to enjoy a great degree of success in the two-wheel drive category (2WD) with Japanese driver and reigning APRC Junior champion Akira Bamba leading both the 2WD and Junior class.
Team mate and defending APRC 2WD champion Karamjit Singh was however, forced to bow out early from the rally. Karamjit suffered a leak in the 1600cc Satria Neo’s cooling system while a third PROTON entrant Kenneth Koh damaged the radiator in a water crossing. Both drivers will attempt to restart Leg 2 under the super rally format.
“A difficult day but nevertheless, a strong first-day result for both the overall and 2WD categories. McRae and Andersson have a lot of time to make up but the Satria Neo S2000 has the pace and performance to give them a solid chance of getting on the podium if they push hard on the final day of competition,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of PROTON Motorsports.
Rally Queensland is run over a total distance of 863km with the longest special stage stretching some 33.25km.
words & pix: PROTON