Asia Pacific Rally Championship – Proton on the Podium
When I was young I always heard about Karamjit Singh and recon as a professional race driver in rallying, from then I love to watch rally.
Rejoining international rallying after a five-year break, PROTON’s return to the coveted Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) has paid off handsomely when it emerged second in the Manufacturer’s Championship in its first full season.
A one-two finish at the recently-concluded China Rally last weekend by Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson reaffirmed the Malaysian car manufacturer’s resolve, determination and competitiveness in the global rallying arena as it placed itself between the traditionally-dominant manufacturers Mitsubishi and Subaru. Malaysia Boleh~!
As an added bonus, the spirited drive by McRae also earned the Scottish driver third placing in the APRC Driver’s Championship and an even bigger cause for celebration at the PROTON camp.
Victory in China closes PROTON’s international rally campaign for the year on a high after seeing its drivers and the Satria Neo S2000 car endure a series of misfortunes that had often denied the team of more podium finishes. The victory reaffirms the Satria Neo S2000 and PROTON’s competitiveness as a manufacturer on the international rally arena.
PROTON had competed in five of the six APRC rounds this year that began with the Rally of Malaysia, Rally of Japan, Rally of New Zealand and Rally of Australia. The team had looked forward to scoring more points in the Rally of Indonesia but the event was cancelled by FIA due to weather condition which was not fit for a rally event. Prior to China, PROTON’s best result was a second place in the Rally of New Zealand.
In addition to the APRC, the Satria Neo S2000 had also competed in this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) where it went head to head with the likes of more established Manufacturer Teams that included Peugeot, Skoda, Ford, Abarth Fiat, Honda as well as Mitsubishi and Subaru.
Acknowledging that to excel in international rallying requires time, investment and continuity, Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin said motorsports is one of several key strategies being pursued to establish PROTON as a global brand. Motorsports has proven to be an ideal and cost-effective platform for the company to generate greater brand awareness in the countries it exports its vehicles to. Equally important, it has also provided PROTON the opportunity to showcase the reliability, strength and performance of the Satria Neo.
“Motorsports builds an emotional bond between car manufacturers and enthusiasts, it helps to inject excitement into the brand or a particular model, it propels sales, it provides a platform in which technology and technical know-how can be used to enhance future road-going models, and as one excels it extends recognition and underlines brand superiority.”
In terms of exposure, both the APRC and IRC events command enormous publicity and television viewers worldwide to promote the PROTON brand globally. The APRC is available to television audiences in over 129 countries and in 2009, reached an audience of 390 million viewers. The IRC meanwhile, is broadcast via Eurosports TV in 59 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and America reaching 240 million television viewers. In addition, PROTON has also garnered enormous support, interest and following via the posting of updates on its rallies over social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
In China, the Satria Neo S2000 stamped its competitiveness by being the only Super 2000 rally car to compete against a field largely dominated by the turbocharged Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza rally cars.
In a rally so rough and one that had taken a heavy toll on so many competitors, only 24 of the original 44 starters completed the two-day event held in the mountainous region and bamboo forests just outside of Longyou city. The rally included the participation of manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volkswagen, Suzuki, Honda, Citroen, Peugeot, Cherry and BYD.
A further stamp of approval to PROTON’s success in China was also the debut of four Proton Gen2s that completed the 229.19km rally. The cars are known in China as the Europestar, under an OEM collaboration between PROTON and Zhejiang Youngman Passenger Car Group Co. Ltd.
Let’s support our Malaysia Proton Team in the upcoming future Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).