Proton pleased with Barum showing

“We’re absolutely on the right track”

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29 August 2011 - 10:23
Proton pleased with Barum showing

In front of a 300,000-strong crowd, PROTON Motorsports demonstrated the pace and ability of the Satria Neo S2000 by scoring both drivers’ and manufacturers’ Intercontinental Rally Challenge points on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which finished this afternoon.

PROTON is contesting this year’s IRC alongside its hugely successful FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship programme, where the Satria Neo S2000 has won three of the four rounds so far this year.

The competition on this weekend’s seventh IRC round of the season was tougher than at any time this year, with 29 of the world’s fastest Super 2000 cars making the start of this exceptionally popular rally. Based in Zlin, the rally is known for attracting big crowds, but with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees for much of the event, the attendance hit a record-breaking 300,000 on the asphalt roads in the south-east of the Czech Republic.

And PROTON Motorsport drivers, double Junior World Rally Champion P-G Andersson and two-time FIA European Rally Champion Giandomenico Basso, were right in the thick of the action.

Unfortunately for Basso, a puncture ruined the Italian driver’s hopes of taking points from the event, but Andersson (Sweden) was on exceptional form throughout to score in the sunshine.

On what is recognised as one of the most difficult asphalt rallies in the world, with it’s bumpy nature and ever-changing grip levels as the roads dive in and out of the trees, both Andersson and Basso gave a solid and speedy account of themselves. And both were delighted with the pace of the on-going development of the Satria Neo S2000.

Conditions weren’t quite as difficult as they have been in previous years, but heavy overnight rain on Saturday meant the shaded areas of Sunday morning’s stages needed to be treated with extreme caution.

Andersson ended the event in ninth place, less than 20 seconds behind local hero and former Ford World Rally Championship driver Roman Kresta, while Basso climbed to 13th having slipped to 18th after his puncture.

Buoyed by its burgeoning IRC pace, the PROTON Motorsports team now heads through Slovakia and into Hungary for the next round of the series, the Canon Mecsek Rally (September 9-11).

P-G Andersson said:
“I had a good feeling the whole weekend and really enjoyed this rally. I liked the stages and we’ve also improved the car in the engine and the chassis. It’s getting better. We had a little spin just before service today and broke the propshaft, but the team changed that and it didn’t cost too much time – it was close to the end of the stage. I’m looking forward to the next event in Hungary now. I have done quite a lot of driving on asphalt and I’m enjoying it – I feel that I know the car now and I can take it to the limit more and more. It’s good.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“I’m happy. This is a very hard race, but I’m happy. We made improvements to the car and, for us, it was important to arrive at the finish with a good result for the team, which we’ve achieved. We’ll see for the next race in Hungary, when I hope to do another good race, maximum attack. The car has improved again, but this race is very hard for any car. We showed the reliability and that was good to show. We had a little problem today but it was just a little problem. The car was good."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We’re very pleased with the way the weekend has gone. Okay, there have been a few punctures and the cars have been off the road a couple of times, but at the end of the event we have shown a significant step forwards in the development of the PROTON. From where we were 12 months ago, we have halved the gap to the cars at the front of the field and that represents real progress. I’m pleased with both of the drivers, but I think given that P-G has never been to this event before, to come here and set the times he’s done, shows what we’re capable of. We’re under no illusion here, we know we have more work to do with the car, but we’re absolutely on the right track and we know the areas of the car where we’re going to focus our attention.”

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