DOMINANT PROTON ONE-TWO IN FIA ASIA-PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Jun 20, 2011
PROTON Motorsports dominated Rallye Nouvelle Caledonie, which finished in Noumea yesterday (Sunday). The Satria Neo S2000 proved unbeatable for the second FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round this year. Chris Atkinson (Australia) and Alister McRae (Britain) finished first and third in the Pacific island event and are now one-two in the APRC standings – with PROTON leading the manufacturers’ title race.
After making the perfect start to the APRC season with a winning double podium on the Malaysian Rally, PROTON was aiming for a repeat of that performance on the 19-stage event. And Atkinson and McRae duly delivered.
Atkinson’s second victory of the year – and PROTON’s third win from the last four APRC rounds (including McRae’s APRC win on the China Longyou Rally, the final round of the 2010 series) highlighted the performance and consistency of the Satrias.
New Caledonia was always going to be one of the biggest challenges for the PROTON Motorsports team this season, with Atkinson only having competed there once before and McRae never having travelled to the island rally. The notoriously fickle weather delivered plenty of rain just before the start of the event, leaving the switchback dirt roads extremely muddy and slippery for the region’s finest and fastest rally drivers. And PROTON, Atkinson and McRae proved to be finer and faster than the rest.
Atkinson built a comfortable lead at the front of the field and rarely looked troubled as he progressed to his second success in this year’s series. His win on the beautiful Pacific island is enough to return him to the lead of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship drivers’ table. The Queenslander is 10 points ahead of McRae, who completes a PROTON’s perfect one-two in the mid-season table.
With three rounds down and three to run, PROTON Motorsports is enjoying huge success in this year’s series – the most important and highest profile in the Asia-Pacific region. Beyond the drivers’ race, PROTON is also leading the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship for Manufacturers and the APRC Teams’ Trophy.
The next event for the PROTON Motorsports team is the Geko Ypres Rally round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which starts in Ypres, Belgium on Friday (June 24). The team’s next FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round will be the International Rally of Whangarei (July 15-17) in New Zealand.
Alister McRae said:
“Not competing here before made this a tricky rally for me. I enjoy the challenge of these new events, but the rain that had fallen before the start of the rally made these roads incredibly difficult. The surface of the road is quite clay-like, so, as you would expect, as soon as it got wet, there wasn’t too much grip around. We had some punctures during the event which cost us a time, but to come away from the event with third place was good news, it keeps me right in the race for the title. From here, we’re going to New Zealand which is an event everybody absolutely loves and I’m hoping I can put one over on my team-mate Chris [Atkinson] on that event.”
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