PROTON rejoins the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC) looking forward to a dominant drive in Rally New Zealand this weekend.
With one victory after only two rounds of the SWRC, the pair of P-G Andersson and Alister McRae is fired up for a repeat performance of PROTON’s dominant drive at the Rally of Sweden.
Andersson, who had rallied the Satria Neo S2000 to its maiden victory in SWRC at his home rally in Sweden, is currently fourth in the FIA SWRC Drivers’ Standings after two rounds with 25 points, while McRae is in eighth position. The team had elected not to compete in the Rally of Portugal, the third round of the SWRC, due to commitments in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Run over three days, Rally New Zealand will comprise of 22 special stages with a competitive distance of 413.94km. Leg 1 on Friday will see drivers taking on eight special stages with another seven special stages on Saturday. Sunday’s third and final leg will be contested over seven special stages.
“It’s great to be back in SWRC again and what better place than New Zealand! This is a fantastic rally with incredible roads. The special stages are always really smooth, which means it’s not so demanding on the car – allowing you to have quite a straight race with the other drivers,” said Andersson.
“With it being winter in New Zealand, though, this means we could be in for some rain or some changing weather. Let’s just see what comes. We are certainly there to chase another SWRC win.”
Rally New Zealand will also be somewhat of a homecoming for the PROTON team, who had earlier enjoyed a good run at the Rally of Whangarei in March during the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) where Andersson and McRae finished second and fourth respectively.
While the special stages may not be identical for this week’s SWRC round, it will nevertheless be similar enough for both Andersson and McRae to feel comfortable with the terrain and confident of pushing the Satria Neo S2000 to a competitive pace.
For team mate McRae, the terrain and open roads of New Zealand has always been a favourite of drivers.
“The fast and flowing nature of the roads encourages you to attack and push harder. The roads work with you on this event. You can use the camber of the road to pull you through the corner – at times you can be a gear higher than you would be on the same sort of bend without the camber. It’s great that Andersson and I have the advantage of having already been down in New Zealand once this year, and that has given us a good chance to dial ourselves into th’e specific nature of these stages,” said an optimistic McRae.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the SWRC calendar, Rally New Zealand starts in downtown Auckland before heading south to the beautiful coastal town of Raglan, around which Leg 1 is centered.
words & pix: PROTON