Malaysian Rally 2012 preview
Jul 10, 2012
After a dominant performance on last year’s Malaysian Rally, PROTON Motorsports will be looking to repeat its double podium at home when round four of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship gets underway in Johor this week.
The Malaysian Rally always poses one of the toughest challenges in an already unforgiving FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The high ambient temperatures added to near 100 per cent humidity puts a significant level of stress on the crew. Competing in hot rally cars in those conditions will provide a stern test of fitness and hydration.
In readiness for the most important event of the season, PROTON Motorsports has homologated new parts and arrives with the Satria-Neo S2000 running in an evolved specification.
Last year, PROTON Motorsports and the Satria-Neo S2000 was more than a match for those exacting circumstances, taking a much celebrated first and third to the acclaim of the thousands of Malaysian fans who had turned out in the hope of such home-grown success.
And this year, PROTON Motorsports is looking to repeat that feeling of national fervor on the roads around Johor Bahru. And those roads are some of the twistiest and most technical in the series. Running through the forests and plantations of Kota Tinggi, in the north-east of the Johor region, the constant stream of corners simply don’t allow the drivers to build up enough speed to maintain a high level of airflow into the car, pushing the crew and the cars to their limits.
While the event falls outside of the traditional monsoon season, fans standing at the side of the stages waiting to see the bright yellow Satria-Neo S2000s will be prepared to get wet – torrential rain is never far away in this part of the world. And that rain can transform the roads, slashing grip levels and turning them into virtual skating rinks for rally cars. The unpredictability and immediacy of the climate will turn this event something of a lottery if the weather does turn wet.
This week’s Malaysian Rally will be one of the most popular in the series, running as it does in the middle of one of south-east Asia’s most populated regions – with more than eight million people in the metropolitan area of the Sijori Growth Triangle.
And virtually every one of those people will be cheering for PROTON Motorsports drivers P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Alister McRae (Great Britain), the men who will be shouldering the hopes and dreams of a nation as they wheel their Satria-Neo S2000s towards the stages.
Andersson and McRae were both in action on the recent FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship-qualifying Rally New Zealand, where Andersson led the category before finishing second. And PROTON itself arrives in Johor Bahru on the back of a dominant win for the Satria-Neo S2000 on the Rally of Thailand.
Tom Cave (Great Britain) took a 10-minute victory in Thailand.
But next week is all about round four of the FIA APRC. The action gets underway on Friday evening with the first of three runs around a superspecial stage at the Angsana shopping complex – but it’s the weekend on those tricky dirt roads which will really decide the outcome of this rally.
Alister McRae said:
“This is always one of the toughest rounds of the championship and really nothing can prepare you completely for the conditions. The team has worked really hard on the car and we certainly felt a difference when we were competing [in the SWRC] in New Zealand and with the new parts, it’s going to be even better. The ability to get the car out of these tight corners quickly is of paramount importance in Malaysia and that’s one of the things the guys have worked on. Beyond the actual driving, Malaysian Rally is, of course, a big deal for PROTON. It’s always fantastic to compete on a manufacturer’s home event and to see the interest and excitement which they have for the programme. What we want is to really give them something to cheer and to deliver a repeat of last year’s result – or event to go one better and do a one-two!”
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