After a series of encouraging results in 2009 and 2010, Proton Motorsports is pushing the Satria Neo S2000 rally car and its drivers, Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson, to bigger things with a full season participation in the Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC) and Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).Good motivation for them as the Renault sourced 2011 Satria Neo S200 engine is now pushing out 305 hp, up from the previous 278 horses.The BF Goodrich tire for the Neo S2000 also has been revised for 2011 with stronger sidewalls. This is from experience gathered from last season, where the APRC’s rough terrain in particular caused several punctures.Read the full news from Wemotor below.
PROTON MOTORSPORTS ENTERS 2011 IRC AND APRC AS FULL WORKS TEAM
PROTON will kick off its 2011 international rallying campaign with the Rally of Monte Carlo from 18-22 January 2011, which will be the opening round of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
The PROTON Motorsports team today received the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian National Flag) from Youth and Sports Minister Yang Berhormat Dato’ Ahmad Shabery Bin Cheek. Also present were PROTON Advisor, Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir. PROTON will compete in the full season of the IRC and Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with the Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car.
The national car manufacturer’s IRC campaign on the European front will be led by Chris Atkinson and newly-signed Per-Gunnar Andersson, while Alister McRae will lead the team’s charge in the APRC which will get underway with the Rally of Malaysia from 1-3 April 2011.
Atkinson was formerly with the Subaru World Rally Team and is also two-time winner of the Asia Pacific Super 1600 Championship in 2003 and 2004. Newly-signed Andersson is a double FIA Junior World Rally Champion having driven for the Suzuki and Ford World Rally Teams. McRae, whose family name has been synonymous with rallying for over three decades and a former Mitsubishi World Rally Team driver, has played an instrumental role in the testing and development of the Satria Neo S2000 since 2009 which culminated with a 1-2 victory recently in the APRC category of the China Rally in November.
“Motorsports is one of several key strategies being pursued to enhance the PROTON brand especially in markets that we are actively exporting to, and PROTON’s objective of participating in both the IRC and APRC will significantly support our aspiration of becoming a respected and competitive global car manufacturer,” said PROTON Group Managing Director Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin.
“Rallying not only serves as a proving ground for PROTON, but the viewership for both the IRC and APRC range in the millions, hence this brings invaluable brand exposure to PROTON and its partners on a global level. In addition, it also enables us to promote the brand and increase awareness in new and potential markets.” In conjunction with the launch of its 2011 IRC and APRC campaign, PROTON Motorsports also welcomed on board the Yasmin Group and Sime Kansai Paints as team partners. The contribution of both companies amounted to RM1 million in sponsorship for the team.
The Satria NEO S2000 made its competition debut in the IRC 2009, and despite being a vehicle that was still undergoing development, consistently posted top 10 finishes. The team’s best finish in 2009 was a second placing at the Rally of Scotland and a fourth placing in the Rally of Russia. In 2010, PROTON went on to secure second place in the APRC Manufacturer’s Championship with its best finish being a 1-2 victory in the APRC category at the recent Rally of China and a 2nd place finish in the APRC category of Rally New Zealand.
PROTON last competed as a factory-backed team at the 2004 Rally of Canberra. Throughout its years of international rallying, PROTON has won the APRC title three times in 2001, 2002 and 2004. In 2002 PROTON also won the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship on its debut.