The International Rally of Queensland 2011 won by British driver, Mark Higgins ahead of second-placed Gaurav Gill and Katsuhiko Taguchi in third. Alister McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes give Proton a strong 4th place finish in what was considered the strongest field of entries in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in recent years.Read the full news by Chips Yap from Motortrader below.
4TH PLACE FOR PROTON TEAM IN QUEENSLAND
Alister McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes braved the odds to fend off a series of misfortunes on the third and final day of the International Rally of Queensland to give Proton a strong 4th place finish in what was considered the strongest field of entries in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in recent years.
Beginning the day with an 8-second advantage over Mitsubishi’s Gaurav Gill, the Proton pair was forced to relinquish the rally when their Satria Neo S2000’s engine began misfiring after a water-crossing in one of the day’s 7 Special Stages.
Their charge back to the top was dealt an even more serious blow when they were forced to slow down considerably as a result of a broken driveshaft over 50 kms of the last 3 Special Stages of the rally, causing them to lose more time.
Despite this, they managed to hang on to 4th place in front of a hard-charging Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia, who was in a Mitsubishi Evolution 10.
“With no service interval, we were forced to slow down and nurse the car to the finish. It was a tough event, one that presented us with a lot of challenges. McRae and I are obviously disappointed in not being able to secure a podium finish but considering the circumstances, finishing fourth at least sees us heading to the next APRC round with valuable championship points,” said Hayes.
Rejoining the final day of the rally after an early retirement on Day 2, their team mate Chris Atkinson endured a second electrical failure which ended his rally.
The rally was won by British driver Mark Higgins, who finished 16 seconds ahead of Gill, while in third place was Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi.
“It was a hard-fought rally. While we were hoping for a better result after a strong start, fourth place amidst an unfortunate last day will nevertheless go a long way in extending our position in the manufacturer’s championship, with full points on Leg 1 and some good points on Leg 2 with a 4th overall and 1st in Class 2,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, the head of Proton Motorsports.
“Credit goes to Alister and Bill who were able to use all their experience to bring the car to the finish. The Satria Neo S2000 has clearly demonstrated that it has good pace and performance, and this is something we will work to further build on in our fight for the championship.”
Another consolation for Proton was the fact that its 1600 cc Goup N Satria Neos finished 9th and 11th overall in the rally, and 1st and 2nd in class at the hands of Karamjit Singh and Proton Cusco Rally Team mate Akira Bamba. The Group N cars were purchased by Cusco and prepared for competition in Japan.