Asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi sees potential for the Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 to become a benchmark in its class – provided that the British MEM team is given the resources to develop it.
Panizzi will drive the car on Rallye Sanremo this week as a toe-in-the-water exercise to assess the possibility of a longer-term collaboration with Proton as a tester and driver coach.
But after testing the Satria Neo for two days in northern Italy, Panizzi is convinced that the car has what it takes to climb to the top of the sport. “My first impression is that it makes a very good base,” said the 45-year-old Frenchman. “The car has a nice balance, it is really compact, and it turns well around the middle. All the ingredients are present. There is a lot of work to do, but with the correct resources, there’s no reason why this car can’t compete with the best.”
Panizzi – a three-time winner in Sanremo – made some adjustments to the brakes, differential and suspension as he prepared to start his first rally in two years, co-driven by Freddy Delorme.
Team principal Chris Mellors added: “We’ve already felt the benefit of having Gilles in the team. He’s a very good test driver, which is essential to help us make the most of our car’s obvious potential.”
Photos ; www.apsm.tv