Published on April 4th, 2011

PROTON rallied to a difficult and well-deserved victory on home soil in the Malaysian Rally to claim 1st and 3rd overall, and giving its 2011 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) campaign a big early boost.

Making the most of an entirely new suspension set-up and significant engine enhancements, Chris Atkinson steered the signature yellow Proton Satria Neo S2000 to victory to finish 1 minute 36.6 seconds ahead of Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with PROTON team mate Alister McRae claiming third place.

Restarting the third and final day of the rally in Kota Tinggi with lead of 2 minutes 10 seconds, Atkinson was quickly forced to concede 30 seconds to an attacking Gill, as he nursed a right rear puncture sustained midway into the opening 12.42km special stage at Tai Tak – Court House.

With the punctured tyre replace and unable to afford another puncture, Atkinson then paced the Satria Neo S2000 through the two remaining 11.97km and 14.26km special stage to return safely to the scheduled service interval. With four special stages remaining, the PROTON driver needed only to steer clear of trouble and maintain an already comfortable lead.

“This is a fantastic result for PROTON. The Satria Neo S2000 performed extremely well throughout the rally and it is especially satisfying to have been able to demonstrate the car’s true potential, competitiveness and its level of pace and performance in front of the home crowd,” said Atkinson who celebrates his first ever victory and only second podium finish with PROTON since joining the team last year.

Victory was even more meaningful for his co-driver Stephane Prevot who in his 24 years of rallying, celebrated his 300th rally on top of the podium and the APRC standings.

For McRae, third place was every bit rewarding considering he had to manage an overheating problem caused by debris and vegetation blocking the air path to the radiator through the front bumper grille. The podium finish also places him second behind Gill, in the Asia Cup category.

The third and final day of the Malaysian Rally was run over seven special stages totaling 79.80km. Heavy downpour just hours before the rally was due to start on the second day had wrecked havoc on the event, inflicting so many serious casualties and eliminating most of the top seeded drivers, as what had earlier been dry and dusty quickly became muddy and slippery conditions.

“In a rally that was incredibly difficult, celebrating a victory and having two cars on the podium is absolutely rewarding for PROTON and the entire team, as much as it is a big boost to the brand and consumer appeal in our products,” said PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director Dato’ Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

“The results are also a manifestation to all the testing, development, hard work and heart that have gone into building on the Proton Satria Neo S2000’s competitiveness. The Satria Neo S2000’s pace and performance in Malaysia forms a strong foundation for further development in preparation for the next round of the APRC which moves to Australia next month and with five more very competitive rounds to contest.”

Outstanding results for PROTON at the Malaysian Rally also extended to the two debutante front-wheel driven 1600cc Satria Neos. Competing for the very first time, the two cars finished 8th and 9th overall at the hands of PROTON Cusco Rally Team’s Akira Bamba and Kosuke Takashino. Both drivers also clinched 1st and 2nd in the APRC Junior Cup category.

words: Proton  pix: Syafril Ismail


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