Japan Rally Report
May 25, 2010
Proton driver Alister McRae once again demonstrated the pace and potential of the Satria Neo S2000 by leading the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship competitors on last weekend’s Rally Hokkaido. Unfortunately for the Scot and the MEM team which runs the Proton, a heavy impact with a rock damaged his car’s sump, forcing the former British Rally Champion out of another possible APRC win.
McRae was taken by surprise when they saw the nature of the roads used by the Japanese round of the APRC. Expecting fast but flowing roads, Alister was faced with super-fast stages with long straight after long straight – the kind of roads which were going to play straight into the hands of their rivals driving turbocharged cars.
Despite being as much as 30kph down on their rivals down the long straights (due to the difference in specification of the cars), McRae led the APRC competition after the opening stage on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, that was as good as it would get for the Scotsman. He suffered two punctures on the next stage, but drove heroically for 15 kilometres to contain the time loss to just 50 seconds, and then hit an unavoidable rock in the middle of the car’s underbody protection on SS6. When his Satria began to leak oil from the impact, he switched the car off. McRae and his co-driver Bill Hayes returned today (Sunday) and finished a trouble-free third over the course of day two.
McRae said: “We’ve taken points for the championship and we’ve shown how quick the car is again on this rally. I’ve been in and around this sport for a while now and I’ve seen these kind of times come and go for a team like MEM and the PROTON R3 Rally Team, it’s the ebb and flow of rallying. One thing is for sure, as much as I have known for any team, this team deserves and has the result coming. The guys are working absolutely flat out and we are going to win very soon – and when we do, we’ll all have earned it. But, when things aren’t going your way, they’re not going your way. We were leading APRC runner when we got two punctures. We drove 15 kilometres like that and did well to only lose 50 seconds or something like that. Unfortunately we then had to drive the short stage with a puncture as well. On the re-run of the long stage, we hit a rock right in the centre of the sumpguard. A few kilometres down the road the oil light came on and we switched it off. Nine times out of 10 you’d have got away with it, but, like I said, when your luck’s not in…
“We ran well on Sunday, when we re-started, and again set a fastest time in the APRC runners. We were third fastest through Sunday, and that was driving sensibly. This car and this team is overdue a result; for the sake of our championship aspirations, we need that to come next time out in New Zealand.”
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