SUPREME PROTON TEAM LEAVE THE REST TRAILING

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

problems.

--MORE

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

Championship.

"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

in 3''58:51.6s.

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.

--BERNAMA

DGC JRL

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