Not only did the Malaysian firm celebrate winning its home round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, it did so by a record margin of more than 25 minutes thanks to the efforts of factory driver and defending champion Alister McRae.
“It’s fantastic to take this win for PROTON - and to see the kind of enjoyment and delight it brings to all the people who work and support PROTON,” said McRae. “Behind a team like ours, there are a lot of people who we don’t see on every round pushing hard to make this happen and a result like this is great for them.”
“For us, the start was quite frustrating,” the Satria-Neo Super 2000 driver continued. “We had a puncture going into the second stage; we’d gone into the control so we couldn’t change the tyre and it just went softer and softer through the stage.”
McRae moved into the lead when team-mate and fellow SWRC driver P-G Andersson retired with an electrical glitch on the final day.
“It was a real shame for P-G: a one-two would have been perfect for PROTON, but this is such a tough event - as tough as I remember from last year [due to the high ambient temperatures],” said McRae. “We moved into the lead and then, with such a big gap, we just had to manage that advantage and get to the finish.”
McRae’s victory moves him into second place in the drivers’ standings, 45 points behind Chris Atkinson, who returns to the world championship on Neste Oil Rally Finland from 2-4 August.