China Rally Longyou review
Nov 07, 2011
PROTON Motorsports delivered another dominant performance on this weekend’s China Rally Longyou, winning the event and taking five FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship titles in the Satria Neo S2000.
Scotsman Alister McRae was on superlative form to take the Drivers’ title along with the FIA Asia Cup. McRae’s PROTON team-mate Chris Atkinson was second in the overall Drivers’ championship, having already won the FIA Pacific Cup. PROTON won the FIA APRC Teams’ Trophy and the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Manufacturers’ title.
Having run the fastest cars in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship all season, it was fitting that the year should end with another stunning performance from the Malaysian manufacturer. Between them, McRae and Atkinson won all but two of the 13 tricky stages in the mountains south of Shanghai. At the end of day one, McRae was close to a minute up on his nearest rival after a perfect day at the wheel of his PROTON. A day later, he was celebrating his second consecutive China Rally Longyou win and his first outright FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title.
Conditions on the event were as difficult as anything the PROTON drivers have faced all season, with wet weather – and heavy rain in the days leading up to the start – making the gravel and concrete stages unbelievably slippery. But McRae mastered them. Wearing spectacles to drive in for the first time, the former British Rally Champion was on top form to win six of seven day-one stages. Despite his healthy lead, he pushed again this morning to build an even bigger cushion, before throttling back and driving to the finish.
Atkinson ended the event on a high with four consecutive fastest times on the roads through the Longyou region. Having won three of the season’s six APRC rounds, the Australian was unable to score the fourth maximum he needed in China to take the title from his team-mate.
Having won in Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and now China, the PROTON Motorsports team will now celebrate its most successful season of all.
The Satria Neo S2000 was the class of the field throughout the 2011 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. And, after six of the world’s toughest rallies, the Malaysians stand above everybody to celebrate five APRC title wins.
It’s been an incredible year. It’s been PROTON’s perfect year.
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Champion Alister McRae said:
“As you would expect, Bill [Hayes, co-driver] and I are absolutely delighted with the result – and not just for ourselves, but for the whole team. This is a great result for PROTON Motorsports, for all of the guys working on the programme back in the UK and everybody in Malaysia, we’re proud to have been part of an incredible season of success. On the rally itself, everything clicked for us from the first stage. When that happens, it’s certainly not easy, but everything just flows and works as you would want it to. We pushed really hard on the first day and made some time to build a good lead. As usual, this was a tough rally. It rained quite hard just prior to the rally and on those narrow and tricky stages, it made for a difficult event. But we came through with a tremendous result: one, two in the Drivers’ championship and the Manufacturers’. Winning an FIA championship is a great achievement for me as a driver and for Bill as a co-driver. What a fantastic weekend!”
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