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MSS: Clean Sweep by Proton R3 in Rd 2

Team Proton R3 dominated the 2nd round of the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) with a 1st and 2nd finish in Race 1 and 2.

As usual, weather conditions at the Sepang Circuit was hot and dry with rain in the later part of the afternoon. With in-car temperatures rocketing for race 1, both drivers kept their cool to capitalise on a good start In Race 1. They later maintained their performance on the track to do the same in a rain-soaked Race 2.

In Race 1, Faidzil Alang made the most of his pole position and led the race from start to finish with the only serious challenge coming from his own team-mate, Syafiq Ali. Syafiq, who qualified in 4th due to a problem during qualifying, made a fantastic start to overtake the 2nd and 3rd placed cars to slot into 2nd behind team-mate Faidzil by turn 1. Both drivers maintained their 1st and 2nd position till the chequered flag.

In Race 2, heavy rain delayed the start by almost an hour and eventually started as a wet race. Faidzil led the race from the start, trailed by Syafiq Ali. Unfortunately for Faidzil, he had a mechanical problem on the 3rd lap which forced him to relinquish his lead to team-mate Syafiq and forcing him to defend 2nd place from 3rd placed Siah W Pyng.

“As always, it’s great for the team to be back on the podium again for round 2. Race 2 was especially tough for me as a mechanical problem forced me to slow my pace. Overall, the car and tyres were working very well, but we believe that we can further improve on it for round 3.” Faidzil Alang.

“I’m thrilled to win my first race in the MSS especially when this is my debut outing with Team Proton R3 this year. The crew were fantastic, working well into the night to ensure I get a competitive car for today. The next round is in July and I am already looking forward to it.” Syafiq Ali.

Malaysian Super Series 2011 Round 2 Results:

Race 1:
1. Faidzil Alang 23:50.401
2. Syafiq Ali 23:51.875
3. Siah W Pyng 24:15.230
Race 2:
1. Syafiq Ali 24:02.202
2. Faidzil Alang 24:35.992
3. Siah W Pyng 25:02.685

Remaining rounds for Malaysian Super Series 2011:
Round 3: 2nd-3rd July
Round 4: 1st – 2nd October
Round 5: 26th-27th November

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 Ignition.my 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.

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!*

15 minutes behind the wheel of the new Proton Satria Neo R3

Proton has just introduced the Satria Neo R3 this week and we have driven it, albeit for less than 15 minutes. While we’re going to save the full review till we actually get to spend more time “testing” it, the 15 minutes spent behind the wheel was enough to leave a pretty good impression of the new Satria Neo R3.

Unlike the earlier Neo R3 of 2008 which just featured a combination of a fancy kit like a bodykit, wheels, bucket seats, Momo steering, and not much else, the new Satria Neo R3 you see here is a product of two years of development and testing. The Satria Neo Lotus Racing Edition (SNLR) – a hardcore, uber expensive, fully kitted out variant of the Satria Neo – was actually this very same car that was pulled out halfway through R & D as the bosses had asked for something special to celebrate the partnership between Proton and Lotus with the 1 Malaysia Formula One Team.

The SNLR was put together in just 6 weeks but even then it was quite an amazing car to drive. Maybe it was the Ohlins suspension and AP Racing brakes, but it still required some very good engineering skills to bring it up to mark, especially for a car that cost RM115,000. Even with the exorbitant asking price, Proton still managed to shift all 25 units of the SNLR, indirectly proving that there is a small, niche market for well kitted Satria Neo’s.

Now, over a year after the SNLR was introduced and after completing 2 years of R & D, Proton has finally introduced the finished product at over RM30,000 cheaper than the asking price of the SNLR. At RM79,797 on the road, the Satria Neo R3 is definately a car that’s going to go down in the history books as one of the most loved Protons. It’s color scheme and overall stance can only be described as inviting and there won’t be many who will be able to resist its allure.

The attraction starts with the exterior. Though the Neo R3 retains the standard Neo CPS bodywork, the kit comes with some additions that include a front splitter that works to reduce underbody turbulence while increasing downforce, a new R3 rear spoiler, and a new central exhaust tip. Painted in “Fire Red” and featuring a black roof, the good looks are topped off by R3’s own 16-inch Gunmetal wheels.

The interior is also a surprisingly pleasant place to be in. There’s still the usual plastic bits from the standard Neo, but the red theme topped off by a great sitting position is definitely a plus if I were in the market for such a car. The steering wheel is wrapped in “Trivel Fiber”, an Alcantara like leather, and the design of the new seats also does wonders in clearing headroom, a thorn on the side of the standard Neo. The seats are placed on the same rails as the standard car, but a deeper cut clears more headroom. They are surprisingly supportive too, with thigh, hip and shoulder support for spirited driving. They held me in place around Proton’s oval test track, and I’m not exactly small sized, all credit to the new design of the seats there.

Topping off the interior is a 2-din touch screen entertainment system with a built-in GPS system.

So the first impression of the car has been great with the overall design, color and stance of the car contributing greatly to its wow factor. The performance of the car is also something I was quite impressed with. For a few minutes lets forget about immense horsepower and lets talk about usable power, something friendly for day to day commute and yet provides thrills whenever you need a dose.

145hp and 168Nm of torque may not sound like much, and it may propel the 1200kg Neo R3 to 100km/h in a not very exciting 9.2 seconds, but that’s a commendable increase over the stock car’s 125hp and 150Nm of torque. This was achieved by using a combination of new products and skilled tuning. For starters the camshafts have been reprofiled to increase valve lift sooner, and to aid breathing, which in turn is aided by a K&N air filter with a R3 carbon fiber air box. The used air exits via a 4-2-1 exhaust system – the same as the SNLR except that its stainless steel without ceramic coating – and out via the new tail pipe, providing a deep, bassy exhaust note. Other than that new lightweight adjustable camshaft pulleys and a R3 ECU with a revised fuelmap provides the final punch.

Familiarity says the Campro CPS engine is a very rev happy engine and is more comfortable at the red end of the rpm meter than it is at the beginning, and that’s no different for the Neo R3. Horsepower is available at 7000rpm and maximum torque at 5000rpm, so you got to really work the revs to get the maximum potential. Aiding you in that cause is a 5-speed close ratio gearbox that see’s off each ratio in a short, somewhat soft, throw from click to click. It may lack the Euro or Japanese feel when shifting, but it works well to get the gears banging home decently quick. A soft clutch makes this car a brilliant daily driver as well.

Finally, the ride and handling. A lot of time was spent developing this special segment of the car as all R3 cars are known to handle very well, so there was quite a reputation to live up to, and it does. R3 chose to stay with the standard OE suspension set up and that turned out to be quite a good decision for two reasons; it keeps the cost down and it handles well. The springs are now shorter and firmer than the standard car, and the whole car sits approximately 10mm lower. This not only aids with the handling but also greatly improves the visual appeal of the car.

We got to put the new suspension set up and brakes at the test track and the Neo R3 took it all in its stride. The brakes come with stock calipers but with an increased operating temperature of 400 degrees make it a great track day trick ensuring full braking capability even for the most hardcore track junkie. The ride was compliant and soaked up quite a bit of the bumps and ruts that were put out for it. At the slalom test I found the car to be a little too soft as there was more body roll than what I would have liked but still there were no signs of understeer as the car kept up with the quick change in direction, a great testimony to the amount of thought that went into making the Satria Neo R3 stand out in a crowd.

So, with a gorgeous color scheme and body kit as well as an engine to match its ride and handling characteristics, the new Satria Neo R3 has proven itself to be worthy of its asking price. Is it worthy of being compared to the legendary old-bodied GTI and GTI R3 though? Rumor has it that the wizards at R3 are already working on something even more hardcore, so we’re just going to have to wait and see. Meanwhile, we’re waiting to take this car home for a full review, watch this space.

Proton Introduces New Satria Neo R3

Proton has introduced its latest variant to the Satria Neo line up and this one has been put together by Proton’s Motorsports Division under the Race, Rally Research (R3) brand name.

The car is distinctively recognizable thanks to its striking Fired Red exterior with a black painted roof as well a all-round CPS bodykit. The kit includes an R3 designed rear roof spoiler, a front lip for improved down force, titanium coloured side strips, and a more aggressive stance as the car now sits 10mm lower than the standard car.

Overall ride and handling has also been improved with the use of specially-designed R3 performance springs for reduced body roll; recalibrated alignment, toe and camber settings for more grip and steering precision; and R3 edition 16″ gunmetal lightweight-alloys wrapped in softer compound Bridgestone Potenza RE001R 205/45.

Inside, the R3 Satria Neo features a sporty, yet classy and alluring matte red and black two-tone interior. R3 limited edition front bucket seats wrapped in nappa leather with ‘Trivel’ finish, carbon effect PVC and red stitching replaces the standard seats. The red theme is also used inside with the use of matte red dashboard trims, gear console and handbrake handle, two-tone door trims, R3 floor carpets, an engine start button, aluminium foot pedals and gear knob.

The new Satria Neo R3 is powered by the tried and tested 1600cc CAMPRO CPS engine but with uprated performance thanks to Stage 2 performance upgrades for a greater dose of excitement. The performance kit sees power figures go up to 145bhp at 7000rpm and 168Nm of torque at 5000rpm, the standard car puts out 125bhp and 150Nm of torque. The power is deliver to the front wheels via a close ratio 5-speed manual transmission.

Safety features built into the car include high performance brake pads capable of withstanding high-temperatures of up to 400 degree Celsius for increased fade resistance often associated with constant heavy braking; dual front airbags, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). The car also comes fitted with Ecotint solar and security protection, and a 2-DIN audio head unit with 3D GPS navigation.

The R3 Satria Neo is priced at RM79,797 on-the-road inclusive of road tax and insurance, and can be viewed at Proton Edar’s Crystal showroom at the Proton Centre of Excellence, Shah Alam and any of the three Platinum showrooms located at Mutiara Damansara, Juru and Plentong.

Bookings can be made immediately at any of Proton Edar’s 23 sales branches throughout Peninsular Malaysia with a fee of RM2,000 and purchasers can expect the car delivered to them within four weeks of obtaining loan approval.

For more information, visit your nearest PROTON showroom today, call PROTON i-care at 1-300-880-888 or log on to www.r3.proton.com.

PROTON releases the R3 Satria Neo

This is the car ONE lucky joker will drive in Saturday Night Fever on 23 April when he/she wins the Couch Racer Challenge!

Just announced today, limited in number, and developed and produced by R3, this baby features Stage 2 upgrades to the standard 1.6-litre CAMPRO S4PH engine and is rated at 145 brake horse power at 7000 rpm and 168 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm.This increase comes from a carbon fiber larger volume airbox, reprofiled camshafts with higher lift and duration, and the R3-tuned exhaust system.

But R3 vehicles are not so much about power, but more of the complete package. And as usual, they have delivered. The R3 Satria Neo features a shorter final drive for better acceleration and response through the gears. It’s claimed to weigh 1,200kg  making it a shade lighter than the stock Satria Neo CPS, promising improved handling via R3’s performance springs, retuned suspension geometry, and Bridestone Re001R tyres of 205/45 R16 size. HIgh performance brake pads rated to 500C complete the handling ensemble.

The R3 Satria Neo comes complete with 3D GPS navigation, dual front airbags, ABS, and EBD.

Priced at RM 79,797 booking is open now at all PROTON EDAR outlets for RM 2,000.

PROTON launches the new Inspira

PROTON Holdings Bhd unveiled the Proton Inspira, it’s new mid-sized four-door sedan, enhancing the upper C-segment of PROTON’s model line-up.

Unveiling the Proton Inspira was the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato ‘ Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed who was accompanied by PROTON Adviser Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed. Also present at the ceremony was PROTON Holdings Berhad Chairman Dato’ Sri Mohd. Nadzmi Mohd. Salleh and Group Managing Director Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

The Proton Inspira is the result of an OEM collaboration between PROTON and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation of Japan. Changes made by PROTON include cosmetic as well as Ride & Handling enhancements.

“We are very encouraged by the customers’ response since our soft launch on 14th October 2010. As of yesterday, we have an overwhelming response of 1,800 bookings nationwide,“ said Dato’ Syed Zainal Abidin.

First batch of Inspiras awaiting their new owners

“One of our product strategy is to introduce non-core models through strategic collaborations which provides a more efficient, timely, and cost effective product to the market. The Proton Inspira is an excellent example of this strategic collaboration,” explains Dato’ Sri Mohd. Nadzmi.

“PROTON will continue to focus on our own design and production of our own cars. We are in fact working on several new models. Customers can expect a new facelift model rolling out from our plant by end of this year and more next year and a new model in 2012 – all done by PROTON in total,” he assured.

We asked Tengku Djan, head of PROTON motorsports arm R3, of any plans to provide performance and hop-up parts and models: “At the moment we’re not permitted to make any changes that have not been presented to and approved by Mitsubishi, and neither can we race the car unfortunately. It still looks too much like the Lancer Evolution X and they are very protective of that.”

The all-new Proton Inspira is available in 1.8-litre CVT and manual transmission as well as in 2-liter CVT transmission.