Alister McRae scored a victory for PROTON for a second successive year in the Malaysian Rally enroute to taking his first win this season in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
The defending APRC champion drove the Satria Neo S2000 to an impressive finish, starting conservatively on the first day but progressively pacing himself before piling on the pressure on the third and final day of rallying.
Finishing second overnight at the end of Leg 2, McRae was fastest on the opening stage of the third and final leg, completing the 12.46km Tai Tak Court House stretch in 10 minutes 37 seconds, 3 seconds faster than PROTON team mate PG Andersson.
Andersson who led the rally, retired at the end of special stage 10. His withdrawal however, promoted Proton R3 Cusco Rally Team’s Karamjit Singh to being the fastest of the two-wheel drive cars, finishing 4th fastest through the stage in the front wheel drive 1600cc Satria Neo, ahead of team mate Akira Bamba who was 7th and followed by Kenneth Koh in 9th. Indian driver Sanjay Takle in another Satria Neo completed the stage in 8th position.
By special stage 12 McRae’s lead grew to 24 minutes ahead of second placeman Brian Green in the Subaru Impreza WRX STi while Karamjit moved up a notch to third place. Chris Atkinson in the Skoda Fabia S2000 was placed fourth 25 minutes adrift.
“We had a brilliant and trouble-free run to the finish. We lost some time due to a puncture on the second day but were able to maintain a competitive pace and progressively push ahead to reduce the deficit significantly,” said McRae. “With unpredictible weather, the Malaysian Rally certainly reaffirms itself as a challenging event.”
This win is a testimonial of the Proton Satria’s strength and performance in one of the world’s toughest rallies. With a distance of 235.28km, the Malaysian Rally comprised 15 special stages run on gravel and taking competitors through some of the most grueling terrains on the APRC tour.
The Malaysian Rally kicked off on Friday with the ceremonial 2.5km Angsana super special stage designed for spectators and is located next to the Angsana Shopping Complex in Johor Baru. The third and final leg of the Malaysian Rally was run over seven other special stages.
words & pix: MRC