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Malaysian Rally - 1-3 Apr 11

Posted: April 4, 2011 8:49 PM - 4567 Hits

Round 1 - 2011 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship


Posted: April 4, 2011 8:49 PM

PROTON Motorsport celebrated one of its greatest rally success ever this weekend as the Malaysian manufacturer dominated its home round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, with Chris Atkinson winning the Malaysian Rally.

Based in Johor Bahru, the Malaysian fans were treated to a stunning display of power and control from Atkinson and his team-mate Alister McRae as the pair powered their PROTON Satria Neo S2000s ahead of everybody else on what is regarded as one of the toughest rallies in the world.

As usual, the heat played its part on this event, with the in-car temperatures rocketing. Fortunately, Atkinson and McRae were more than ready for their personal battle with the elements – and the PROTON was equally up for the enduring challenge posed by the twisty and technical stages.

Atkinson made a blistering start to the event. Content to play second fiddle on the spectator-pleasing dash around the Angsana suuperspecial, as soon as the event hit the real roads of the Kota Tinggi forest complex the Australian was in his element.

Fastest on the first gravel stage, the PROTONs were demonstrating commanding early pace by posting the first and second quickest time; Atkinson’s team-mate McRae being the only driver able to get close to the Queenslander’s scratch time.

The next stage meant another fastest time for Atkinson, his lead now more than half a minute at the front of the field. Unfortunately, SS3 proved more of a challenge for McRae and his co-driver Bill Hayes. The front of their Satria Neo S2000 became blocked by long grass, restricting the air-flow into the engine. Starved of cool air going through the radiator, the engine began to overheat, limiting the power available to the Scot.

McRae remained in touch throughout day one and moved back onto a provisional podium position on the sixth test.

Atkinson’s searing pace through Saturday was matched only by the temperature outside the Satria. Despite the heat and humidity – which led to in-car temperatures running in excess of 60 degrees – the PROTONs didn’t miss a beat. The leader won five of the six gravel stages on Saturday to dominate proceedings and build a lead of close to two minutes. With McRae’s Satria Neo S2000 just two places further back in third, the local fans were loud and proud of the Malaysian machinery which was dominating the front of their most important rally of the year.

After their thrilling and dominating drives through Saturday, Atkinson and McRae set about protecting their podium places on Sunday. The heroic pace and performance of day one, gave way to consistency and durability on day two. Atkinson suffered a right-rear puncture on the opening test, which cost him half a minute, but that was the only issue on day two. The PROTONs ran faultlessly to allow the Australian and the Scotsman to end the event in first and third places.

This was what the thousands of Malaysian motorsport fans had turned out to see: their car winning their rally. Two Satrias on the podium made for a sweet weekend.

PROTON won the final round of last year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and maintained that domination into 2011, with a hugely impressive display in Johor Bahru this weekend.


Chris Atkinson said:
“This result has been coming for a while. Last year, we saw just how quick the car was in the APRC and now we’ve delivered the score which everybody in PROTON deserves. It was a shame Alister had his trouble on the first day, it would have been a great battle with him. In the end, we had to drive sensibly. We’d got a good lead from the first day and we could only lose it today [Sunday]. We weren’t willing to risk anything, so we just settled down and counted the stages off, especially after we dropped some time with a puncture on the first stage this morning. As a driver, you always want to be on the limit and racing, but this was a result for PROTON and the people of Malaysia. They have made us so welcome over the past week, to be able to take two places on the podium is a fantastic result for Chris [Mellors], the MEM team and all of PROTON. It’s the best possible way to start the season. As soon as we got into the car to drive it with the new suspension and engine, we knew it was going to be special. It was. Very special.”

Alister McRae said:
“This was a great result for the team, but it was obviously a little bit disappointing that I had the overheating problem yesterday. We were running pretty high up on the road and we got some grass caught in the radiator. When we saw the temperature going up, we slowed down until the temperature came down a little bit, then we would go again. The car has taken a really good step forward and there is more speed to come, but the engine and suspension already felt great on this rally. There’s no doubt this event was the toughest for the Super 2000 car. The tight corners don’t suit S2000 cars as much as the others, so to take a win here is fantastic. The next rallies will suit us much more, which makes the future very exciting for this car and this team. Obviously, a one-two was the dream, but first and third is a great result and a massive achievement for PROTON.”

Dato’ Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir (PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director) said: ??
“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. The results are also testament to all the testing, development, hard work and heart that have gone into building 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 five further very competitive rounds in 2011.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“When we saw the look on the drivers’ faces after the first test of the car this year, we knew this was possible. The team has worked so hard through the winter to make this happen. Both Chris [Atkinson] and Alister [McRae] have driven fantastically for this result. The PROTON Motorsports team has really pulled together for this result. The cars have been fantastic throughout the weekend. Obviously, with the guys taking a good lead over their nearest rivals into the second day, we talked about our approach, which was about delivering on the promise we’d shown yesterday. And we certainly did that on the rally which means the most to us all. And the good thing is that there is more to come from the car. We now look forward to the next Intercontinental Rally Challenge round [Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles] next month. But, for now, two Malaysian rally cars on the podium of Malaysia’s biggest rally of the season is the perfect result. ”

Posted: April 4, 2011 8:44 PM


Posted: April 4, 2011 8:37 PM

PROTON Motorsports - Malaysian Rally preview

Posted: April 1, 2011 2:52 PM

PROTON Motorsports returns to the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) on this week’s Malaysian Rally. And the Malaysian manufacturer is more determined than ever to deliver in front of its home fans.

After concluding last year’s APRC with a series win in China, the PROTON team has worked solidly through the winter on the Satria Neo S2000. And, when they drove the new car for the first time, PROTON’s Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson were delighted. Both of them know they’ve got the ideal car for this year’s championship and now they want to make the most of it.

The Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is one of the world’s toughest, which is why it’s sanctioned by the governing body of world motorsport; if you want an FIA title and the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the winner of the FIA World Rally and Formula 1 World Championship at the awards ceremony in Monaco, you’ve got earn it. And earning it for PROTON, McRae and Atkinson starts right here in Johor Bahru, Malaysia this week.

The Malaysian Rally gets under way with a ceremonial start on Friday afternoon. The crews will play themselves in with a crowd-pleasing superspecial stage around the rally’s base at the Angsana Complex – the first of its kind on this event. But, for the weekend, the rallying gets hotter and much, much tougher.

The forests and plantation roads of the Kota Tinggi region, north-east of Johor Bahru, will host the fastest cars and drivers in the Asia-Pacific region on what will be a typically gruelling Malaysian Rally. The gravel tests are some of the most twisty and technical on the calendar; the cars will rarely be in the top half of the gearbox as they wind their way through this beautiful countryside. Physically, there is no bigger challenge than this. Allied to rocketing temperatures, the high level of humidity and lack of air flowing into the cars will have a major effect on the crews. Dehydration and exhaustion regularly take their toll on drivers and co-drivers in Malaysia. The PROTON crews have pushed themselves to the limit in their preparation for this event – and the team have done the same with the car.

The Satria Neo S2000 is running with a revised suspension set-up, using Reiger Racing Suspension for the first time – and different characteristics in the engine. The two-litre motor produces more than 300 horsepower and offers consistent torque throughout the rev range.

Running in a tropical climate, there remains the threat of rain in the region and, when it comes, it can change the nature of the event in an instant. When wet, grip levels on the roads are slashed, forcing the drivers to rely on their talent and the car’s ability to find traction to get them to the end of the stage. And there are no drivers in this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship as qualified to deal with the tricky conditions as McRae and Atkinson; between them, they have years of experience of rallying at the highest level. And, pre-season testing has shown, they’re as fast as ever. And more than ready to deliver on PROTON’s biggest rally outing of the year.


Chris Atkinson said:
“The car felt absolutely fantastic in the test. The change of suspension and alterations to the engine have really honed the whole package. The new Reiger suspension immediately gives you great confidence in placing the car on the road, we’re getting better traction and the improved damping is lessening the impact strain on the other areas of the car. When you have more confidence in the car you’re able to relax more driving it, everything flows much better and feels more natural. That’s where we’re at with the PROTON. You really need that kind of feeling on an event like the Malaysian Rally as well. This is such a tough physical challenge that you need everything to be working to get the best out of yourself. We’ve trained really hard for the event and during the rally the major thing is to stay hydrated and keep the core body temperature down. We’ll drink plenty of water and rehydration fluids to help us maintain concentration and avoid the kind of muscle cramps you can get if you do become dehydrated. We’ve had a great lead into this event, seeing so many of the PROTON employees and fans has been amazing. It really makes you realise how much the rally programme means to the company.”

Alister McRae said:
“There’s no doubting the challenge of the Malaysian Rally, it’s one of the toughest around. It’s amazing when you’re driving in these kind of conditions, it’s so hot and so humid. My co-driver [Bill Hayes] and I have been spending a lot of time on exercise bikes in a heat chamber to prepare ourselves, which seems to have worked, but the real test will be when the event starts. This isn’t a particularly fast and flowing event, there are lots of tight corners. But, after the great work the team have done in altering the characteristics of the engine, we’ve now got more torque lower down the revs, which will help to fire us out of those tight corners. We led this event last year and I really think we’ve got what it takes to win in Malaysia and that goes for the whole championship. I’d be very disappointed if Chris [Atkinson] and I aren’t battling all the way for the title. The commitment put into this car from MEM and PROTON is tremendous and Bill and I have matched that 100 per cent; I feel as excited and determined as I ever have done starting a new year. I love driving rally cars and I can’t wait to get going with this one.”

Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood (Head of PROTON Motorsports) said:
"There is no greater honour for PROTON than to be competing in front of our home fans. PROTON is a proud Malaysian car manufacturer of 25 years and the passion and performance we see in the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 is testament to the qualities we hold dear as a company. I am hugely excited to see Chris [Atkinson] and Alister [McRae] competing on our home stages and I'm hoping they will do PROTON proud with podium finishes. We must remember, however, there will be fierce competition from drivers like Mark Higgins, Cody Crocker, Katso Taguchi, Gaurav Gill and local ace Karamjit Singh. The Satria Neo S2000 is a high quality and high-performing motor car and we're all eager to see it in action this week."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“I think this is the most excited I’ve been coming into the start of a season. The MEM team has worked very, very hard on this car and, from what we’ve seen in pre-season testing, we’ve come out with a strong and high-performance rally car. We had a year of learning with the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 last season and now we’re ready. It’s fantastic to come here to Malaysia, the home of PROTON, and see the real passion for the programme all around the country, not just in the PROTON factory, but nationwide. And now we have to deliver to those fans. On a practical level, the Malaysian Rally is a tough way to start the season. It’s one of the hardest events in the world, let alone the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, but challenges like this are why we are in the sport. And it’s not only the rally that’s tough, either – there is, as always, some fierce competition out there in this year’s APRC. But our drivers are delighted with the car and they’re ready for the year ahead.”

PROTON drivers delighted with Satria Neo S2000 upgrades

Posted: March 28, 2011 2:33 PM

The PROTON Motorsports Satria Neo S2000 will start this week’s Malaysian Rally with further developments on the engine and suspension.

Two cars will be driven on the opening round of this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship by Chris Atkinson (Australia) and Alister McRae (Scotland). Both drivers are delighted with their first test of the latest-specification PROTON.

The changes to the car include the use of Reiger Racing Suspension, with the Dutch firm an acknowledged expert in the field. As well as the new dampers, the Satria Neo S2000 benefits from engine developments, which offer more torque from the stunning two-litre Malaysian machine.

Atkinson and McRae test the cars again tomorrow, ahead of the ceremonial start of the Johor Bahru-based event on Friday (April 1). The rally finishes on Sunday (April 3).

PROTON Motorsports will contest this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge as well as the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.


Alister McRae said:
“The car is definitely stronger coming to the start of the first event. We drove it for the first time over the weekend, in the same place that we did a test last year and immediately it felt very, very good. For example, where we had to go down to first gear to get out of tighter corners last year, we’re able to leave the car in second and the improved torque lower down really pulls the car away and out of the bend.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“The dampers are such an important part of the car – they’re what connects everything to the road. Already from the first time you drive the car, you can feel improved traction and stability from the PROTON. That feeling translates into more confidence and more speed from the driver, it’s fantastic. I can’t wait to get the event started now!”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“Just from talking to the guys, you can see the way they feel about the work we’ve been doing over the last couple of months. It’s tremendously exciting to be starting the season in APRC. We have been working with the Reiger engineers, developing this new system, while simultaneously improving the linear-nature of the power development and we’ve come out of the winter with a very, very competitive car. Like the guys are saying, we can’t wait to get going!”

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Rally Guide 1 / Event Website / Details

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