Current British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave drove remarkably in his debut as a factory driver for PROTON enroute to setting fastest time in 11 of the rally’s 13 special stages, and to win by a margin of more than 10 minutes.
Piloting the Satria Neo S2000, Cave delivered a strong performance for PROTON which made for an impactful return to the Rally of Thailand after many years of absence, finishing ahead of Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen from Brian Green Motorsports and Wittaya Ruegchan and Pramote Somjarassuwan from the Thai Beer/Maxima Rally Team.
It was also Cave’s first time competing in the rally as well as in the Far East.
“It could not have ended better considering the many firsts – it was my first drive for PROTON Motorsports, my first visit to Rally Thailand and the Satria Neo S2000’s first time competing in the kingdom,” said an excited Cave.
“The Satria Neo S2000 was very well suited to the grueling, tight and twisty terrain. We had an exceptionally good run and were able to stretch our lead from the very start and maintain a competitive pave throughout.”
The 21-year-old was co-driven by Craig Parry, and 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 2011.
Victory in Thailand also reaffirms the Satria Neo S2000’s competitive engineering and rally superiority, where 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.
As an automotive manufacturer, PROTON’s participant in the rally scene is significant as the Company strives to push forward its aspirations – and motorsports provides an avenue for PROTON to showcase its cars and their performance, technology and capabilities. Even more significant and crucial is the opportunity to learn and discover the capabilities of Proton cars in the extreme conditions of motorsports, which will ultimately be translated into product development.
A candidate round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Thailand (Queen’s Cup) was 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 began on Friday with a short super special stage before moving on to seven and five special stages on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
words & pix: PROTON