PROTON to start IRC campaign on Geko Ypres Rally
May 25, 2010
The PROTON R3 Rally Team will start its Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign on next month’s Geko Ypres Rally.
The British-based MEM team which prepares and runs the official Satria Neo S2000s will send two cars to the classic two-day Belgian event which is rated as one of the best asphalt rallies in the world. The PROTON R3 Rally Team line up for its first IRC appearance of the year will remain the same as for this year’s FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship: Scotsman Alister McRae and Australian Chris Atkinson.
The PROTON R3 Rally Team is currently in Japan preparing for the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Hokkaido, which gets underway on Friday evening.
McRae contested the final round of last year’s IRC series with PROTON, collecting the team’s best result so far by finishing second overall on the Rally of Scotland after a trouble-free run in the Satria Neo S2000.
Alister McRae said:
“Ypres is an exceptional event. The stages are legendary in Europe and it has to be one of the best-supported rallies in the world; the locals are all really big fans of the sport – it’s always a great atmosphere. The roads in Belgium can be really difficult, though. There are some big ditches at the side of the road which seem to be able to swallow a car whole! The other factor on the Ypres Rally is the weather, it can be prone to changing very quickly – coming from Scotland I’m pretty well used to that! Starting out IRC campaign in Ypres is good news, it’s a very high-profile event and, coming a little bit later next month, it will give us the opportunity to get some asphalt testing in with the Satria Neo S2000.”
Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“It’s no secret that we had looked at starting our IRC programme in Sardinia, but we’ve decided to go for Ypres instead. If we had gone to Olbia with the car, it would have seriously restricted the amount of asphalt testing we’d have been able to do with the car before Belgium. Having seen the way we’ve been able to develop the car on the gravel with the extra loose-surface testing over the winter, we felt it made more sense to focus on preparing the cars and drivers for Ypres, which is undoubtedly one of the classic European events. The focus of this season is the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and, after leading and running so well last time out in Malaysia, we’re looking for a win in Japan this week. At the same time, the IRC is probably the most competitive series in the world for Super 2000 cars and by extension a great place to show the pace of the PROTON – and that’s what we’ll be doing in Ypres and on a programme of events later in the season.”
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