Proton driver Alister McRae has given Proton its first ever podium finish in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by taking third place in the Rally of Scotland.
McRae, who now lives in Perth Western Australia, made a triumphal return to his native Perth shire in Scotland to pilot the rapidly improving Satria Neo to its best result so far.
Scottish hero McRae reveled in his appearance on the Rally of Scotland, just seven days after almost capturing a podium on the Rally of China in a similar Satria Neo S2000.
McRae, a former British and Asia-Pacific champion, was delighted with the Mellors Elliott Motorsport Proton Satria Neo S2000 and says he now the wants to do more rallies in the car in 2010.
The Satria Neo S2000 only homologated in October 2008 and made its debut on the IRC in June at the Belgium Ypres Rally and the all-new car has quickly shown its potential.
Team principal Chris Mellors has confirmed that a full IRC campaign alongside an attack on the Asia Pacific series is already in preparation for 2010.
“We’re looking at a four-car program for 2010 – two in the IRC and two in the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship,” he said.
“Alister has driven for us in the Asia-Pacific series this year and until this weekend that was what we were planning for 2010 as well, but I know he’s enjoying this weekend a great deal so it could be interesting sorting that out.”
McRae himself was in typically ebullient form all weekend, and was delighted to record Proton’s first podium finish in the IRC.
“The Proton chassis is one of the best I have ever driven”.
“Yes we’re doing the full IRC next year. We are looking forward to coming back and fighting these guys again,” Alister said.
“Kris Meeke (rally winner) has christened me ‘old safe hands’ but I can assure you these old hands were working far quicker than the brain!” McRae added.
McRae’s proud father, five-times British rally champion, Jimmy McRae, was working with the organisers of the inaugural Rally of Scotland and took great pride in his son’s return from Australia- joking: “He’s still a McRae!”
The two-litre Proton Super 2000 engine is derived from the 1.8 litre engine fitted to the Waja model and has been further developed by MEM’s engineers to produce a reliable 210kW @ 7600rpm (278 horsepower) with a usable power band from 5,500 to 8,500rpm.
The Satria Neo S2000 uses the six-speed sequential Xtrac 4WD transmission system, one of two control transmission systems allowed under FIA rules.
The car is also fitted with an innovative quick-change fuel control cassette which includes all the fuel pumps, filters and valves, attached to the MEM-designed FIA FT3 safety fuel cell to aid rapid maintenance.
Alcon provides the braking power with the latest Super 2000 alloy 4-pot calipers and ventilated discs which when combined with the Neo’s low overall weight of 1150kg gives outstanding brake performance.
The ventilated disc sizes can be maximised for both gravel when the car uses 15 inch rims and tarmac when it steps up to 18 inch rims, however for both simplicity and cost the brake calipers are common to both setups thanks to a simple mounting arrangement.
MEM’s engineers have designed the suspension with a relatively conventional layout of wishbone and MacPherson strut making it easy and relatively cheap to maintain while delivering extremely high reliability.
The suspension design has also maximised damper travel achieving both an ultra-low tarmac setup with low levels of body roll and a long-travel gravel setup with enormous ability to soak up the biggest bumps.
A variety of anti-roll bars are also available for both front and rear ensuring the suspension setup can be easily fine-tuned for any rally surface or type.
The latest technology is used in the electrical systems with a state-of-the-art multiplexed wiring system capable of managing the entire car’s electronics from a central unit situated in the centre of the car between the driver and co-driver. Apart from the weight saving reduction that this achieves it is simple to operate and boasts automatically resetting circuit breakers for improved reliability.
The result is a car which not only has well-proven technical advances and novel design but also simplicity to ensure the best possible combination of performance and reliability.