Proton will enter three cars on the Prime Yalta Rally

Saliuk joins Andersson and Basso


31 May 2011 - 11:35
Proton will enter three cars on (...)

PROTON Motorsports will arrive at the start of this week’s PRIME Yalta Rally on the back of a positive three-day test in Ukraine.

For the first time this season, the Malaysian firm will run three Satria Neo S2000s, with local hero Oleksandr Saliuk Sr joining regular Intercontinental Rally Challenge crews P-G Andersson and Giandomenico Basso for the Ukraine’s biggest moment in rally history.

The beautiful town of Yalta will host the event, but the mainstay of the action will take crews inland from the Black Sea coastline and into some of the Crimea region’s most dramatic scenery on the roads are the Ai-Petri Mountain.

This is the first time the PRIME Yalta Rally has formed part of the IRC and the nation has got behind the event, with the event organisers are expecting huge numbers of spectators to turn out to watch the fastest Super 2000 cars competing in their backyard.

All three drivers tested the Satria Neo S2000 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (today) in preparation for what’s going to be one of the most testing rounds of this year’s IRC. The unyielding mountain roads allied to the often changeable weather will make for one of the most fascinating rounds of the series to date. The action gets underway on Thursday (June 2) with two stages, before two long days of sport on Friday and Saturday.

The PROTON crews focused on getting their cars set-up for the event ahead, while also testing the latest developments made to the Satria Neo S2000, which includes further improved suspension and engine settings.

Driving a factory car at IRC level for the first time, Saliuk Sr will have plenty of experience to draw on within the team: Andersson has two Junior World Rally Championship titles to his name and Basso is a two-time European Rally Champion and the man who won the inaugural IRC crown in 2006.

P-G Andersson said:
“I am very encouraged by the way the car has been feeling in the test. The handling of the car feels better again since Canaries and the engine is also improved. I can’t say where we might finish the event, but I am pretty sure we will be closer than we have ever been to the other competitors. About the rally, well, I don’t know too much. I think it’s going to be a similar sort of event, similar sort of stages to the ones I drove on the Bulgaria Rally last year. I think it can be quite bumpy in some sections, with the grip level changing a lot. The other thing which seems to be changing quite a lot is the weather – and when it rains I think the roads are going to be quite slippery.”

Giandomenico Basso said:
“It’s good to be back in the car again after quite a long time away. The car feels nice and having a test in the place where we are going to be competing has helped me again. The team is good to work with and we have made a good set-up for the event. I don’t know too much about what to expect from this rally, it’s new for us all – but it’s nice to go somewhere new and to try a new challenge.”

Oleksandr Saliuk Sr said:
“It means a great deal to me and to my co-driver and I to compete together 20 years after we won the title in the USSR. This is a very important rally in the Ukraine and one which will attract the IRC’s fastest drivers to our beautiful part of the world. I am very excited about competing with these drivers and teams in front of the home crowd.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We had a very good test for the event, everything went really well with all of the drivers feeling comfortable in the car and getting plenty of kilometres in. There’s a real sense of anticipation ahead of this event, it’s something new, nobody really knows what’s coming - and it’s a great place to go rallying; the atmosphere is fantastic, the organsation has been tremendous and everything is working very well. From what we’ve heard, the roads are quite similar to Corsica in places, with varying levels of grip. There’s another strong entry for this latest IRC round, which means the competition is going to be pretty fierce, but, with more time in the car and the further improvements we’ve made to the Satria since the boys were in it last time in the Canaries, we’re feeling confident of a strong performance.”


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