The two Proton Satria Neo S2000s of Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson demonstrated a blistering pace on a competitive opening day of the Malaysian Rally which saw the top six registered competitors in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship separated by a difference of just one second.
PROTON Motorsports’ McRae completed the 2.5km super special stage for spectators held near the Angsana Shopping Complex in a time of 2 minutes 02.5 seconds for second place, just 0.4 seconds shy of current rally leader Indonesian Rifat Sungar in a Mistubishi Evolution X. Team mate Atkinson rounded up the top five to deny an all-Mitsubishi front row.
“Today’s short run was an excellent testimony to the Satria NEO S2000’s competitive and newly-charged pace and performance,” said McRae whose result also places him second in the Asia Cup category.
PROTON’s exposure in the rally was also given a further boost with the inspiring debut of the PROTON Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos. Japanese drivers Akira Bamba was placed 11th, 20 seconds behind the top APRC contenders, but leads the APRC Junior Cup category ahead of team mate Kosuke Takashino.
“It’s a strong start for PROTON with all four Satria Neo’s occupying the top positions in their respective classes. This certainly helps to generate a lot of exposure, and with the APRC beamed to 129 countries with a worldwide audience of 390 television viewers, we believe our involvement in rallying will go a long way towards establishing brand awareness and interest globally,” said PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director Dato’ Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.
The Malaysian Rally has attracted a total of 35 entries, of which 18 cars are Protons, with 12 cars competing for APRC points
Day 2 of the rally involves seven special stages, with another seven special stages being run on the third and final day.