Proton demonstrated their determination in putting up a strong showing in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2011 with an impressive opening day performance that saw both cars place in the top five, with only a second separating them from the cars placed in front of them.
Alister McRae piloted his Proton Satria Neo S2000 to a time of two minutes and five seconds in the 2.5km special stage to place second on the first day, just 0.4-seconds off the pace of leader Rifat Sungkar in his Mitsubishi Evo X. McRae’s teammate, Chris Atkinson, completed the top five for the opening day of the Malaysia Rally.
“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 also made more strident steps as the rally masked the debut of the Proton Cusco Rally Team and their 1600cc Satria Neos in the APRC Junior Cup. Japanese driver Akira Bamba managed eleventh spot overall, 20-seconds off the pace of the top APRC boys but more than enough to lead the Junior Cup category.
“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,” echoed Proton Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director, Datuk Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.
The Malaysia Rally garnered 35 entries of which 18 cars were Protons and 12 of them were officially registered and in the running for APRC points. Day 2 of the rally will see seven special stages organised with another seven special stages planned for the third and final day.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Day 2 of the APRC as the day is almost done and the results should be out soon.