JOHOR BAHARU, April 3 (Bernama) -- Locally manufactured Proton Satria Neo
was in supreme form to stamp its class in the 2011 Malaysian Rally Championship
at the Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi today.
The Proton Satria Neo 2000 driven by Australia''s Chris Atkinson was just too
fast and too good for the rest of the field in the Asia Pacific Rally
Championship class and to further consolidate their status, Alistair McRae, the
other entrant from Proton, came in third.
Infact the signs were all very clear when the Proton Team finished in a
similar position after the opening stage on Saturday and today they merely
confirmed their status with another solid performance.
Atkinson and his co-driver Stephane Prevot from Belgium finished the race
over the two-stages with a total time of 3 hours 14 minutes 49.3 seconds with
India''s Guarav Gill and his Mitsubishi Lancer coming home second in 3''16:35.9s
while McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes finished with a time of 3''23:37.5s.
The Proton team''s victory in Malaysia has come at a time when there were
doubts whether the car would hold up under tough conditions, given the bitter
experience of last season''s outing when both the cars developed mechanical
SPORTS-RALLY 2 (LAST) JOHOR BAHARU
But things went well in the end and Atkinson was full of praise for the car
at the winners'' Press conference here today.
"We have taken a big step forward with our performance here today. The new
suspension system and the development work done on the engine has paid off. It''s
a great start to the year as we look forward to the Asia Pacific Rally
"The secret to our success here for Alister (McRae) and me is the way the
car responded. That''s why we could win by such a big margin," said Atkinson.
China''s Fan Fan, who is making a return to the rallying scene here after a
five-year absence won the opening leg of the Malaysian Rally Championship today
with a flawless performance over the two stages.
He clocked 3''44.30.6s in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to edge defending
champion Muhammad Rafiq Udahaya in a Subaru Impreza into second place with a
time of 3''47:20.6s while Japan''s Aji Kim in a Proton Satria Neo came in third
Two local challengers, Karamjit Singh the ''Flying Sikh'' who finished second
overall last year and Saladin Mazlan, the 2009 runner-up, failed to get
their challenge off the ground as both GSR Pennzoil team drivers suffered
mechanical problems midway through.