Proton are on a roll and seemingly unstoppable? Heading to Japan for this weekends Rally Hokkaido (1-2 October), the Malaysian manufacturer leads the drivers championship with Chris Atkinson on 109 points and seconded by team-mate Alister McRae with 86.
Atkinson has won the three events he’s finished and McRae has finished every event with 3 podiums. The title’s certainly not ‘in the bag’ yet though as 39 points are available for each of the final two rounds giving Indian Gaurav Gill (63) and Indonesian Rifat Sungkar (47) the opportunity to still snatch the title.
Adding to their chances is the question of Proton reliability. The Satria has been reasonably reliable all year but last weekend at IRC San Remo Atkinson’s Proton stopped in Stage 1 with an electrical fault, similar to the problem that put the Australian out of his home event the Rally of Queensland. No doubt MEM and Proton Motorsports are working on solutions right now as they won’t want a repeat of 2010 Rally Hokkaido where neither car finished.
Proton are well in control of the Manufacturers points (132 and Mitsubishi 119), Team Trophy (185 to Team MRF on 103, SouEast Motor 88), Junior Trophy, Two-Wheel drive cup and Atkinson won the Pacific Cup at Rally Whangarei. The only title race Proton doesn’t lead is the Asia Cup points currently lead by Gaurav Gill with Japan and China still to go.