Hello everyone, we’re back after the break. Hope everyone’s Chinese New Year celebrations were a blast. So what’s been happening with PROTON Motorsports lately? Quite a bit, apart from the recent Monte Carlo rally. We recently signed a deal with renowned Japanese parts manufacturer Carroser Co. Ltd.(CUSCO), who purchased the Satria Neo cars to be sold as rally cars in Japan.
That’s the first time ever a PROTON car will go on sale in Japan. The technical collaboration came about as a result from the performance and potential of the Satria Neo S2000 rally car at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
The car was unveiled recently at the Tokyo Auto Salon show that took place on 14 – 16 January 2011. The CUSCO engineered Group N Proton Satria Neo rally car will be sold to competitors who will be competing in the Junior Rally Championships in Japan and Asia Pacific.
The Group N Proton Satria Neo rally cars will be based on stock standard road-registered 1600cc showroom models acquired by CUSCO, homologated according to FIA regulations for competition use, and retrofitted with CUSCO-developed aftermarket performance and race components.
CUSCO is famous for producing top-of-the-line aftermarket performance parts for both the Japanese and international tuning markets. They’re also the only independent firm in Japan to compete in all categories of the ALL-Japan Championships: track racing, rallying, dirt trials and gymkhana.
At the same Tokyo Auto Salon, a concept Proton R3 Satria Neo went on display. The concept car is a sporty three-door hatchback that features R3’s distinct body styling, enhanced engine performance, braking, handling and an upgraded interior. A feast for the eyes indeed for Japanese car enthusiasts and visitors to the show from around the globe.
The Tokyo Auto Salon happens to be the world’s largest auto exhibition showcasing more than 600 vehicles and 300 companies involving after-market parts manufacturers, tuners, custom shops, car manufacturers, automotive businesses, associations and automotive vocational schools.
Group N rally cars in Shakedown action!
Soon after that the Group N rally cars participated in a shakedown event held with the Japanese media, dealers and potential owners of the Neo at the Maruwa Autoland Nasu in Togichi. Members present experienced the thrill and adrenalin of being in the rally car during shakedown, in the co-driver’s seat. Professional Japanese drivers from various racing backgrounds were also present to test drive and share their experience with the Group N Rally car, Neo Standard & Neo Concept.
In the event, the Neo went though two days of testing over a distance of 250km on gravel roads without any mechanical issues. Overall the drivers rated the car as having very good handling and balance when driven at high speed. Also at the event, a Mazda 2 rally car was brought in to be pitched against our Neo. The Proton car beat the Mazda, clocking in a time of 1 min and 19 seconds, ahead of the Mazda by 6 seconds over a 1km stage. This clearly demonstrated the Neo’s capability when pitched against other reputed manufacturers. Pretty cool!
So what’s next? PROTON and CUSCO will be participating in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2011 under the Junior Trophy category. The category will be introduced for the first time this year in the APRC, to increase opportunities for young talented drivers within the region. The event is only open to drivers born on or after 1 January 1982. Junior Group N driver, Bamba San, is expected to participate in this event, with a selected Malaysian rally driver. The event will involve four qualifying rounds that will take place in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan.
Check out our official Facebook page here for videos of the shakedown under the videos section.
The Satria Neo Group N Rally cars will also be available for sale in Malaysia. For further enquiries on specifications and pricing, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.