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APRC: Last Stage Drama in Rally Queensland

Three times British Rally champion, Mark Higgins won the 2nd round of APRC in Rally Queensland, in which Proton’s challenge ended after early pace setter Atkinson had to retire after an electrical failure. Higgins started the final stage 1.6 seconds behind, but after 34 km turned the deficit into a 15 seconds advantage.

A record entry of 96 cars started the Rally.

Couch Racers Graduate From Driver Training, Move on to circuit training

The Couch Racer series continues with its promise of driver training and selection for the one lucky individual to drive Proton’s new Satria Neo R3 at the upcoming Saturday Night Fever; a once a month night series held at the Sepang International Circuit that is open to anyone with some interest in door-to-door track action and has a reliable machine.

The five fastest drivers were selected via a Couch Racer tournament that had 16 drivers go head to head against each other on a Playstation 3 simulator with Gran Turismo 4 as the battle ground. The 16 were selected over a course of two months where visitors to Motorsport Playground were encouraged to post their fastest possible time. The 16 fastest times made it to the final show down.

The final five from that went through intensive driver training under the watchful eye and guidance of accomplished racers Admi Shahrul and Adian Yein, both veterans of numerous circuit races.

Held in a safe and closed area of the Shah Alam stadium car park, the drivers had to endure a road dashed with engine oil to learn the basics of car control. Driving the exact Satria Neo R3 that is to be driven at the Saturday Night Fever, the main agenda of the training was braking and cornering, skid control and a slalom course.

All training exercises were designed to help the drivers understand the driving characteristics of the car under changing conditions, whether on track or during daily driving. The oil was added to minimize wear and tear to the car’s tires as well as to help stir up some unexpected movements from the car.

When asked on how the training program helped with their understanding of the car, all drivers acknowledged that they know understood vehicle dynamics better.

“It’s a refreshing training and I now understand my car that much better,” was the response from one driver while the rest agreed that they were never given such an opportunity to learn before this.

All five drivers graduated to the final driver training program that is to be held at the Sepang International Circuit before one lucky driver is selected to enter the upcoming Round 3 of Saturday Night Fever.

The Couch Racer series and Saturday Night Fever is an initiative put together by to reach out to drivers that otherwise would have no opportunity to drive hard in a safe and controlled environment. Currently in its first full-year running, Saturday Night Fever attracts thousands of spectators to watch 100 cars in different categories battling it out for the top three spots of each category, they then return at their own discretion to defend their title at the next round the following month.

MRC: Proton’s Atkinson triumph in Johor

Proton Motorsports led by Chris Atkinson in a Proton Satria Neo 2000, out-powered and outclassed the field to win the opening leg of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Teammate, Alister McRae, came in third.

Proton meant business when they both finished in a similar position after the opening stage on Saturday. and continued into the second day with yet another round of flawless performance, both from the car and driver.

Atkinson and his co-driver Stephane Prevot from Belgium finished the rally over the two legs in a total time of 3hrs: 14:49.3secs with India’s Guarav Gill and his Mitsubishi Lancer coming home second in 3hrs: 16:35.9secs. Third is McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes in 3hrs:23:37.5secs.

Proton Motorsports 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 and suffered an early knock-out.

But things went well in the end and Atkinson was full of praise for the car today. “We have taken a big step forward with our performances here today. The new suspension system and the development work done on the engine have paid off. It’s a great start to the year as we look forward to the rest of the round at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. The secret to our success here for Alister (McRae) and me was 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 a total time of 3hrs: 44.30.6secs in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to push the defending champion Muhammad Rafiq Udahaya in a Subaru Impreza into second place on a total time of 3hrs: 47:20.6secs with Japan’s Aji Kim in a Proton Satria Neo coming in third in 3hrs 58:51.6secs.

“I guess knowing the conditions in Malaysia having competed in the 2004 and 2005 series help me quite a bit. It’s always tough rallying in Malaysia,” said the Beijing based Fan Fan.

MRC: APRC & MRC Kicks off the dust today

Malaysian Rally 2011 kick starts in Johor Bahru today, is also the opening leg of the Asia Pacific Rallying Championship (APRC.

Amongst the entrants are GSR Pennzoil’s Cody Crocker, in a Subaru Impreza, Katsu Taguchi of Japan, in his Mitsubishi Evo XI and there is the pride of Proton, Alister MacRae in the Proton Neo 2000.

Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya, the defending Malaysian Rally champion in his Subaru Impreza is just as eager to defend his title and so is old hand Karamjit Singh in a new Mitsubishi Evo .

The action starts on Friday with a Special Stage Race over a 2.5km purpose built track at the Plaza Angsana before the rally proper begins at the Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi over the weekend.

“We did a trial run over the circuit at the Tai Tak Estate and it is a challenging one. I just cannot wait for the race to begin. “Rallying is full of surprises and challenges. You never know what lies ahead and lies next,” said Karamjit , who finished second last season.

The threat of Saladin Mazlan who is making a return to rallying after a one-year absence, is seen as a challenge Muhammad Rafiq and Karamjit cannot ignore. Saladin came in second to Karamjit overall in the 2009 season in a Proton Satria but sponsorship issue and his love for polo has prompted him to take a break last year.

“But watch out for him. He is a talented driver,” said his GSR Pennzoil Team leader Gunaseelan Rajoo.

A total of 35 entries from nine countries including China, India, Australia and New Zealand, making it one of the largest gatherings of rally entries in Malaysian soil, confirmed for the championship.

MRC: KL Rally Day wows the crowd

KL Rally Day proved to be a success among locals and tourists.

The three competing teams – Proton Motorsports, Pennzoil GSR Racing Team, and MRU Motorsports created quite a commotion at Bukit Bintang, Sogo, Pusat Bandar Damansara, & Damansara Uptown with their attention grabbing rally cars and rally replicas.

The parade was an effort by the organizers to expose the sport to the masses and also as a treat to rally fans in Kuala Lumpur.

MRC 2010 reigning champion, Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya of team MRU Motorsports rocked up with his Subaru Impreza WRX STi signing autographs for rally fans, and explained rallying to interested members of the public.

Many came forward to have their photos taken with the cars at pit stops.

You can look out for your pictures on MRC’s Facebook page at and feel free to tag Malaysian Rally in your pictures of KL Rally Day.

Catch the opening round of the 2011 Asia Pacific Championship, which forms part of the 2011 Malaysian Rally Championship at the Plaza Angsana Johor Bahru and Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi from April 1st until 3rd.

VIDEO: Satria Neo R3 reviewed the way it should!

The PROTON Satria Neo R3 has just been launched, and there has been a lot of excitement surrounding the specifications and expectations. Think of it as an affordable Satria Neo R3 Lotus Racing, which was launched about a year ago.

Some of the hop-up specifications are familiar now: R3 carbon-fibre airbox, 272 degree performance camshaft profiles, exhaust system, and recalibrated programmable ECU. And some of the improvements are new: R3-design 16 inch wheels mated to Bridgestone RE001 205/45 tyres, R3 performance springs, 400C fast-road brake pads, new R3 front splitter (which looks fabulous!), R3-design red / gun-metal interior with new, lower buckets seats.

The exterior styling is very aggressive but done in good taste, and it comes in one colour: Fire Red with black roof, and dark titanium strips. As a whole, the package looks fantastic and on paper promises much. Yet there are still sceptics: RM 79,797.00 for a Proton Satria Neo?

So after all the hype, the question that everyone wants to know is: is it really that good? We’re one of the first to find out, and there’s no better place to wring a car worthy of the R3 badge than the old Bukit Putus road!

The climb up Bukit Putus isn’t as steep as Genting, but it’s a climb nonetheless and one that highlights the lack of outright power the PROTON 1.6L CPS engine has compared to more modern performance saloons which sport 2L engines. However rev it hard and whack it all the way to 7000rpm, blaze through the closer-ratio gears, and you’ll be rewarded with a sexy rasp from the exhaust and a zippiness that lacks from the base CPS car.

R3 are a certified mastery at handling setup!

Flinging the car on the Bukit Putus downhill highlights the magic that is R3’s masterclass: the complete package. It goes beyond the bolt-on go-faster bits, as the car is imbued and optimised with entirely different geometry and settings. The brakes still feature ABS and EBD, but you would think they almost don’t exist as you stand on them hard and throw the rear out, the Satria Neo R3 turning with exceeding fluidity, lots more grip provided by the tyres.

Within a few corners of hard driving you’ll feel like a tarmac-rally hero: gunning the car hard to the redline, snatching gears up and down the box, diving into every corner just like Chris Atkinson. If you’re too quick, a mild lift-off and it tightens like a good FF car should. Turn-in understeer is not part of its vocabulary. Foot back on the power as you exit, the response is instantaneous and you burst out of the turn far quicker than you thought possible!

If you’re still not excited by that experience then you’re not the target market. For those that can appreciate quality performance engineering, then – just like the original Satria R3 of 2004 – the hand-finished Satria Neo R3 will keep you amused for many a sinewy road.

And if you still need more, just ask the R3 boys nicely and they’ll show you to their building where there’s even more power and performance via further upgrade packs. Plus – pssst!! – we heard rumours a turbo setup could very well be a reality very soon *wink!*

MRC: Get up close with APRC cars in KL today

Asia-Pacific & Malaysia Rally Championship cars will hit the streets of KL today 23rd March from 11am till 5pm as they parade through the streets of Klang Valley, bringing the rally to the road as part of the KL Rally Day.

Team Proton Motorsports, Pennzoil GSR, and MRU Motorsports will be revving up beasts such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Subaru Impreza WRX, Proton Gen-2 and both the Proton Satria Neo 1.6 as well as the Proton Satria Neo S2000.

The entourage will be flagged off from Petaling Jaya for the Golden Triangle, passing some of the interesting landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. Amongst the routes that they will take includes Jalan Ampang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Telawi and Jalan Gelenggang. Follow @malaysianrally or #klrallyday on twitter for updates on their exact location.

There will be noise and excitement while you stand a chance to get your pictures taken with both the cars and the Rally Girls as they make their pit stops around the city.

Expect to see up to 9 international teams and a lot more horsepower at the opening round of the 2011 Asia Pacific Championship, which forms part of the 2011 Malaysian Rally Championship at the Plaza Angsana Johor Bahru and Tai Tak Estate in Kota Tinggi from April 1st until 3rd.