McRae to drive Proton in Asia-Pacific series

Former British Rally Champion and works driver for Hyundai and Mitsubishi, Alister McRae, has been confirmed as a driver for the Proton Rally Team, driving the marque’s Satria Neo Super2000 rally car on the 2010 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and selected rounds of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The news comes after the Scot’s excellent second place on the 2009 Rally of Scotland, the finale of last year’s IRC at the wheel of the Proton.

Alister is understandably thrilled at the prospect of returning to the IRC and the APRC in the Proton; “I am delighted that the Proton team has asked me to drive one of the two official Satria Neo S200 cars this year,” he said. “After three events last year, it was clear that the car, developed by Mellors Elliot Motorsport is an excellent package out of the box, as we showed with our pace in China and the result in Scotland. With some more testing and development, which MEM already has in the pipeline, I think that it won’t be long before it’s showing what it is capable of.”

McRae took the Satria to its best-ever result in Scotland, handing the Malaysian marque a podium finish on only his third rally at the wheel. And his reputation as both a competitive driver and one gifted at development means that he will be invaluable as the young Proton team looks to push its performance forward.

In addition, the APRC program will see the team compete in six of the seven events forming the championship, including Malaysia, Proton’s home event, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and China.

The program is currently scheduled to begin with a one-off appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship on Rally Jordan, running in the SWRC category, since the Proton marque has a significant presence in the Middle East.

It’s IRC program is to be finalised but is anticipated to include Rallye d’Italia Sardegnia in June, the fourth round of the 2010 series and the second mainland European event, after Rallye Monte Carlo and two events in South America, Rally Curitiba in Brazil and Rally Argentina. It then continues with events in the Azores, Czech Republic, Spain and Scotland.

MEM boss Chris Mellors has admitted that he doesn’t want to roll the 2010 car out prematurely, preferring to wait until the development work has begun to reap it rewards.

Summarising, McRae said; “I gather the team hasn’t decided on the second driver yet and I would expect that it may be different drivers for the IRC and APRC series. We will be testing a selection of new parts at the end of February in preparation for the Jordan Rally in April and then, onto Malaysia for the first APRC round.”

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. This is a young team and we have already proved the car has pace and potential and I think it will be an excellent year. It feels very good to be back with a manufacturer team doing proper championships and I can’t wait to get started.”