Published on September 12th, 2011

PROTON rallied to as high as 14th fastest before succumbing to a difficult Hungarian Rally debut when both Satria Neo S2000s were forced into retirement in the inaugural Canon Mecsek Rallye.

In a field dominated by Skodas and Peugeots, double Junior World Rally Champion P-G Andersson drove spectacularly to demonstrate the Satria Neo S2000’s pace, performance and competitiveness on the back of a series of unfortunate incidents.

Andersson began the two-day rally – which is a newly-included event and round 8 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) – conservatively, finishing the opening special stage in 17th position. His momentum and charge to the front of the field however, was dealt a cruel blow when he hit a kerb and severely damaging a wheel through the 28km second special stage which forced him to make an unscheduled wheel change. This incident cost the young Swedish driver almost 8 minutes dropping him to 42nd place overall. The brush with the kerb also damaged the Satria Neo S2000’s rear differential and adversely affecting its handling.

Andersson however, fought back valiantly by immediately rebounding to post 14th fastest in the third 12km special stage. He claimed four more places to move up to 39th place in special stage 5 before a technical problem eventually ended his rally in special stage 6.

The second Satria Neo S2000 of two-time FIA European Rally Champion Giandomenico Basso meanwhile, was also forced into retirement due to an abnormal mechanical issue on the first day. The extremely rare failure of the oil filter seal caused all the engine oil to leak out entirely forcing Basso to stop.

Being a new event on the IRC calendar, the Canon Mecsek Rallye offered no significant advantage to any of the IRC drivers and teams in terms of technical data and experience, with most competitors reporting they struggled in search of grip in tackling the fast, narrow, tricky and slippery asphalt roads.

“Under these circumstances, we had certainly hoped for a better result, but despite the unfortunate setbacks, Andersson’s drive was able to clearly demonstrate the Satria Neo S2000’s strong pace and competitiveness. We have certainly taken a significant step forward compared to where we were earlier this year, and development of the car continues as we look forward to bridge the performance gap between us and the likes of Skoda, Peugeot and Ford,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the Head of PROTON Motorsports.

The Canon Mecsek Rallye was contested over a competitive distance of 251.86km in the forest areas north of Pécs, run mainly on high-speed roads with more than 100 teams and 20 IRC regulars taking part.

words & pix: Proton


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