Proton moves further ahead in Sweden

A complete damper change at the mid-day service helped P-G Andersson driving for Proton Malaysia, move further ahead of the rest of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship field on Rally Sweden this afternoon.

Andersson was forced to watch as his two-minute lead was beginning to be eroded by an increasingly confident Craig Breen (Ford), with the two-time Junior World Rally Champion unable to find the grip he needed on the snowy Swedish stages. But, a 30-minute service from the PROTON Motorsports team was all the car needed for him to be back on form through the afternoon.

Andersson, whose lead was close to three minutes at the end of the second day, said: “It was quite tricky this morning, the rear of the car was sliding all of the time. But this afternoon, it was perfect. We changed all of the dampers on the car and it was very good fun to drive again. This afternoon the car was like new again, we could push and we had confidence to take the time back. It’s not so nice to watch as your rivals are taking your lead away!”

PROTON team principal Chris Mellors explained the situation, saying: “We discovered that the ice was beginning to build up in the dampers and make them stick. We swapped them all and he’s flying again now.”

Having spent yesterday building his confidence, Breen drove tremendously well through the morning to take time out of Andersson. The Irishman’s hopes of repeating his SWRC victory from round one took a knock on the final long stage of the day when he suffered a brake problem.

Breen said: “The front-right disc shattered. We had to stop on the road section and take the caliper and disc off. It might not sound too bad to say we were going through the stage on three brakes, but it was hell in there – so tough! When the road was flowing it was okay, but when I had to get on the brakes to slow the car, it was jumping out of the ruts and going everywhere. It was not nice, but at least we’re through.”

Pontus Tidemand held a comfortable third place in his Skoda following another day of impressive times from the Swede. Hayden Paddon drove a similar car to an end of day fourth. The New Zealander felt more at home on his second day of competition in the Fabia. Yazeed Al Rajhi was another driver leveling a very steep learning curve in his Fiesta.

Maciej Oleksowicz retired from day two with engine trouble aboard his Ford, while Alister McRae was seventh in his PROTON.

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