PROTON returns to the Rally of Thailand this weekend, bringing with it no less than a dominating and championship-winning car that will be making its competition debut in the Kingdom for the very first time in many years.
PROTON’s single-car challenge will be led by current British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave who will be piloting the Satria Neo S2000 as a factory team driver for the very first time.
The 21-year-old, co-driven by Craig Parry, had previously driven a privately-owned and works-supported Satria Neo S2000 on selected FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) events in 201.
“I am thrilled as I am honored to have been chosen to drive for the PROTON Motorsports team on Rally of Thailand. I’m a little apprehensive as well! It’s going to be a big challenge for both myself and Craig as this is my first factory drive and the fact that I’ve never been to Thailand…We have no idea of what to expect but I relish the challenge and the opportunity and hope that we can get a good result for PROTON,” said a delighted Cave.
Rally Thailand will be contested over 13 grueling special stages both on gravel and tarmac, 250km north of Bangkok in the region of Lop Buri. Totaling 220km, the three-day rally begins Friday with a short super special stage before moving on to seven and five special stages on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
The Satria Neo S2000 had rallied PROTON’s Alister McRae to the 2011 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) driver’s title. PROTON had also shot into rallying history by becoming the first manufacturer to win an unprecedented eight individual titles in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2011, winning not only the coveted Manufacturer’s and Driver’s Championships, but also the 2 Wheel-Drive and Junior Championships in only its first full season of the championship.
Earlier this year, the Satria Neo S2000 at the hands of PG Andersson won the Swedish Rally and finished second in the recently concluded Rally Australia in the 2012 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC).
words & pix: PROTON