Malaysian car manufacturer PROTON Holdings Berhad is looking to start its 2011 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) campaign on a high note with a strong finish at the season-opener Rally of Malaysia which begins April 1-3.
PROTON will field two Satria Neo Super 2000 rally cars piloted by former World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers, Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson.
At the official launch of its 2011 campaign at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Petaling Jaya, the team received the symbolic Jalur Gemilang from the Deputy Minister of Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato’ Dr. James Dawos Mamit. “Beyond conventional marketing, motorsports provides car manufacturers like PROTON what can be defined as emotional leverage; first attracting fans, enticing them to learn more of the brand and product, establishing brand following, and hopefully translating into ownership desire and later brand loyalty,” said PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director Dato’ Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.
“This is extremely important for a relatively small global player like PROTON as it allows us to make greater inroads into markets in which we are not yet present or are currently confined to a small representation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Head of PROTON Motorsports Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood said the Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car had benefitted from an entire year devoted to testing and development that allowed the team to gain tremendous improvements in terms of power, performance and reliability.
“We have proven that the Satria Neo S2000 is a race-winning car, and in the hands of Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson, we are out this year to prove that it is also a championship-winning contender.
“There is nothing more exciting than a home event, and with all the preparation and development we have undertaken, the team looks forward to a strong result at the Rally of Malaysia. Rallying on home ground is not going to be a walk in the park. On the contrary, it is often regarded as one of the most challenging and rough rallies on the APRC calendar,” he said.
The 2011 APRC season will also see the entry of several Group N Satria Neo 1600cc rally cars. The cars have been jointly-developed by PROTON and renowned Japanese tuner CUSCO, and are being sold to competitors in Japan taking part in both the APRC and Japanese Junior Rally Championship.
The APRC also enables PROTON to benefit from enormous exposure, with the championship beamed to television viewers in over 129 countries and reaching out to an estimated audience of more than 390 million viewers worldwide.
In 2010, PROTON went on to secure second place in the APRC Manufacturer’s Championship with its best finish being a 1-2 victory in the APRC category at the China Rally. PROTON has also won the APRC title three times in 2001, 2002 and 2004.
Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2011
1– 3 April Malaysia
13 – 15 May Australia
17 -19 June Nouvelle Caledonie
15 – 17 July New Zealand
30 Sep – 2 Oct Japan
4 – 6 Nov China
PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia’s largest manufacturer of automobiles, and the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in South-East Asia. With operations in key markets from UK to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, especially in countries like China and Iran, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences.
Its offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, spacious and affordable multi-purpose vehicles, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus. Most importantly, PROTON models are now developed with Lotus Engineering, offering customers superior ride and handling experience in every drive.
PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. By listening to the needs of customers, PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieve the mission for the future, with PROTON set to become a marque which builds cars with passion and soul; cars that are a delight to drive – and a pleasure to own.