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Champion Couch Racer Gets a ‘Mat Speed’ Satria Neo to Race. This is His Story!

As promised, our Champion Couch Racer was handed a car to race at Round 4 of Saturday Night Fever. And boy did he have a great race, showing the veterans that sometimes a person born with skill can be equally as good as someone with experience, think Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso back in ’07.

Ng Hoi Yew, or better known as Yew, outshone five other Couch Racers. Selection was done a few months ago when Ignition.my organized the Couch Racer Challenge at Motorsport Playground. The idea was to get anyone who visited the Playground to put down their fastest lap on Need For Speed and we will invite the Fastest 16 drivers for a final showdown.

Yew turned out to be the most elegibile to drive at SNF. Selection was done based on overall performance and not outright speed. We had to know that we could trust the driver to handle the car, so not only was speed a criteria, but so was dicipline, the ability to think under pressure, and feel for the car.

We also put the five selected drivers through training to get prepared for the race. We teamed up with veteran racer Admi Sharul to teach the Couch Racer’s on how to handle understeer and oversteer, how to brake correctly and avoid obstacles. We even organised a drift clinic for them to better understand the dynamics of throttle and steering control. All to get the selected driver prepared for the race.

We had promised a Satria Neo R3 to be driven at SNF, but Proton ultimately backed out of the deal and so we resorted to more sporting friends, Mat Speed. They were kind enough to loan us their tuned Satria Neo for Yew to trash drive.

Yew was a total track freshie and the regular track days was the only experience he had on track.

“It was just totally exciting. Before the race, I had no idea how it felt to race at the North Track at night. I only had experienced the full track on open track days. Moreover, its a race. Many things went through my mind. I kept thinking what I would need to do if this or that happens. I also kept seeking advice from a friend of mine. Anyhow, I ended up with no plan in mind before the race, because that was my 1st time.”

Yew raced in all three heats in the Hyrax Oil Campro Chase category where he had to race against 12 other seasoned drivers. We asked him to describe heat by heat what was running through his mind:

1st Heat: I was sooooo excited as I was placed 1st on the starting grid. I was driving a bit too fast starting from Turn 5 till the last corner. The speed I brought in the race compared to the warm up and the practice session was really different. I ended up loosing control during my third lap at Turn 7. That cost me two places and I ended up at seventh.
Lesson learnt: slow down when you know you are already too fast.

2nd Heat: Due to oil leak from the previous category’s race. there was powder from Turn 6 to Turn 7. To play safe, I slowed down the car every time I approached that corner. On the fourth lap, I was overtaken by another Satria Neo at Turn 1. Reason? I was still taking my racing line even though there is a car right behind me. Lesson learnt: defensive line!!!!

3rd Heat: By this round I started to get used to the race and also the track. I had did well by just looking at the comparison of the best lap time for both 3 heats. I also started to have some “dogfights” with opponents.

When asked about the best part of the race, Yew replied, “the best part of the race was during Heat 3. I had about three laps of “dogfights” with Mr Ramsey, who was driving a Satria Neo ClubSport. I have been told that he is an instructor and also an experienced driver. His car was better handling but mine had more power. I ended up loosing my placing to him at the very last corner of final lap. That session was totally unforgettable. Ramsey came to me after the race, “good one, clean fight. That was impressive!”

The scariest moment for all race virgins is almost always the first turn and true enough Yew said that his scariest moment came at Turn 1 at the start of the race. He mentioned that because there were so many cars fighting for position, there were some spin outs and some door to door scrapiing. “I needed to back off, the owner of the car had told me to treat the car like my own before the race, and so I did.”

Yew said that his impressive performance at SNF was ultimately down to the Mat Speed Satria Neo. “The car handling I would say was balanced for me as the modifications done to the handling of the car are only the coil overs, bars, and the alignment adjustment, but I’m not too sure about that. Not much different on the handling part compared to my standard Neo. Somehow, this cars power output is just simply awesome. I was told it has a different cams, management and exhaust system. Although it is not the fastest car in the race, but it just made me come out with the thoughts of doing the same mods on my own Satria Neo.”

Our Couch Racer Series will continue soon as we look for the next victim to be put out on track to experience a race like none other. But as for Round 5 of Saturday Night Fever, that continues on July 30th. Watch for updates.

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 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.

Introducing the Couch Racer Challenge

Just so you know that here at Ignition.My we really have so much free time that we keep devising newer and more interesting events and Challenges, plus the fact that we want everyone to get into racing, we’ve gone and created yet another Challenge Series: the Couch Racer Challenge!

Do well here..

Organised in conjunction with Motorsport Playground and supported by R3, this is going be a fabulous!

Sounds like a silly joke, right? But consider that the ultimate prize is a drive in what Tengku Djan has hinted will be a “very special upcoming Satria Neo” in the Campro Chase series at Round 3 of Saturday Night Fever on 23 April 2011, and includes some driver training so you can be competitive.

Now it doesn’t sound too crazy after all, right? It’s just downright AWESOME!!

All you have to do is set a Top-20 best time in the GT5 consoles at Motorsport Playground from now till 26 March 2011, and you’ll be invited to the Finale. Do well there, collect your little medal, and then head down for Driver Selection. If you can prove to us that you’re the best of the bunch in real life driving, that drive at SNF in the R3-prepared Satria Neo is yours!

..end up here!

The course run in GT5 will be Arcade mode, Single Race with traffic (just like in SNF!), using a Lotus Elise. Practice runs are priced at RM 10 for 3 rounds, and if you think you’re ready to qualify and do a time, it’s RM 20 for 2 goes.

The Top-Times will be kept on record on the wall at Motorsport Playground.

For more information, go to the Couch Racer Challenge page. Or just stop wasting time and go to Motorsport Playground and give it a go!

Campro Chase category filling up fast

It’s getting hot in here! We’ve received a bunch of entries for the Campro Chase category, not just from the sportier Satria Neos but there’s also a Saga BLM! That’s definitely newsworthy, is it not?

Places are going fast and Matspeed has just informed us a whole contingent of Campro-engined vehicles that’ll be taking part as well.

Be sure to download the Entry Form and email it to faisalasri@ignition.my to ensure your participation. We’re limited to 80-90 cars (the total number of transponders available to use) and we’re not limiting them by category, it’s first-pay-first-serve!