ELEVEN out of the 13 special stages, and with a margin of more than 10 minutes.
That was how good Proton and its Satria Neo S2000 won the Rally of Thailand, with current British Rally Championship leader, Tom Cave, in his debut as a factory driver for Proton.
Cave delivered a strong performance for PROTON, finishing ahead of Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen from Brian Green Motorsports and Wittaya Ruegchan and Pramote Somjarassuwan from the Thai Beer/Maxima Rally Team.
It was also Cave’s first time competing in the rally as well as in the Far East.
“It could not have ended better considering the many firsts – it was my first drive for PROTON Motorsports, my first visit to Rally Thailand and the Satria Neo S2000’s first time competing in the kingdom,” said an excited Cave.
“The Satria Neo S2000 was very well suited to the grueling, tight and twisty terrain. We had an exceptionally good run and were able to stretch our lead from the very start and maintain a competitive pave throughout.”
The 21-year-old was co-driven by Craig Parry, and had previously driven a privately-owned and works-supported Satria Neo S2000 on selected FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) events in 2011.
Victory in Thailand also reaffirms the Satria Neo S2000’s competitive engineering and rally superiority, where the Satria Neo S2000 had rallied PROTON’s Alister McRae to the 2011 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) driver’s title. PROTON had also shot into rallying history by becoming the first manufacturer to win an unprecedented eight individual titles in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2011, winning not only the coveted Manufacturer’s and Driver’s Championships, but also the 2 Wheel-Drive and Junior Championships in only its first full season of the championship.
A candidate round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Thailand (Queen’s Cup) was contested over 13 grueling special stages both on gravel and tarmac, 250km north of Bangkok in the region of Lop Buri. Totaling 220km, the three-day rally began on Friday with a short super special stage before moving on to seven and five special stages on Saturday and Sunday respectively.