This year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship enters its final round in China this week and, once again, the PROTON R3 Rally Team will be at the sharp end of the competition, battling for victory on China Rally Longyou.

The PROTON R3 Rally Team Satria Neo S2000 has undergone further development ahead of the APRC finale, with the British-based squad making full use of the extra time following the cancellation of the penultimate round in Indonesia.

Scotsman Alister McRae and Australia’s most famous rally driver Chris Atkinson will drive the Satrias in Longyou County, Zhejiang Province. McRae contested the event last season and was running fourth and pushing for a podium in the PROTON, despite that only being his second event in the car. This time around, the team’s only aim is for victory. But that’s not going to come easily. Once again, the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship will provide some fierce competition and the Chinese stages are as tricky as any.

The route runs the Longyou County, which was founded 2,232 years ago. The China Rally Longyou has a slightly shorter history: first run in 1997, it has been an APRC round since 2006. The terrain is mountainous and beautiful – not that Alister and Chris will have a moment to take in the views or appreciate any of the 100 protected cultural relics in the area.

The gravel stages run through the bamboo forests with more than half of the route on loose surfaces. There are three new stages for this year’s event, two of which are a mixture of concrete and gravel and one, the event’s final test Mo Huan, which is totally concrete.

Unlike to much of this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, this rally is likely to be run in cool temperatures of around 12 degrees with possible rain.

Alister McRae said:
“We did this event last year, so it’s really good to be going back to somewhere we know. It’s always easier to do an event the second time around, you have more data for setting the car up and a good, general idea of what the stages are going to be like. Having said that, I think the stages are something like 45 per cent new for this year, so we will be writing a lot of new notes. I enjoyed the stages last year, but they tend to be a little bit on the slow side, with lots of uphill hairpins. I was really impressed with the car after I drove it in Scotland, the engine felt really strong and the way the car handled was very nice. We’ve come very close to winning rounds of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship this season and, hopefully, this is going to be the event where we finally turn all of the PROTON’s potential into a first win at this level.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“It’s great to get back in the car and have a go at an event like China. It’s a completely different experience to rallying in any other country, it’s a totally different culture, but I think it’s one that I will like. I have done some rallying in this part of the world when I did the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2003, but I haven’t done this event before. It’ll be useful to have a chat with Alister to talk about what he learned last year. But, for me, I want to get out there and show what the PROTON can really do. We were setting some really good times in Queensland, last time out, and since then we know the Satria Neo S2000 has taken some more development, so it should be a really strong package. I’m sure it’s going to be a good event.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“This is an event we’ve got some data from, from last year’s rally, so we know what we’re going to get here – although there are some new stages this time around. We’re looking to end the year on a high, once again the car has shown some great potential and it’s really come on in terms of development through the season. This is the final event in the APRC season and we’re definitely looking to come home from China with a result.”

Event data:
Round: 7/7, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
Based: Longyou, Zhejiang Province
Stages: 15
Liaison distance: 441.66km
Competitive distance: 229.99km
Total distance: 671.65km
Shakedown: Superspecial Stage, Shiyuan (Thursday November 4, 1530)
Pre-event press conference: Minjuyuan (Thursday November 4, 2000)
Post-event press conference: 8/F Meeting Room, Construction Bureau (Sunday November 7, 1445)
Time difference: China is GMT+8hrs

Event timetable:
Friday November 5
Ceremonial start – RongChang Square    1100
SS1 Superspecial Stage (1.82km)    1400

Saturday November 6
SS2 Ma Shu Kou 1 (25.53km)    0802
SS3 Mao Jia Pu 1 (14.70km)    0842
SS4 Hong Miao 1 (2.73km)    0919
Service – Long Xiang Lu    0957
SS5 Ma Shu Kou 2 (25.53km)    1128
SS6 Mao Jia Pu 2 (14.70km)    1208
SS7 Hong Miao 2 (12.56km)    1245
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1321
SS8 Ma Shu Kou 3 (25.53km)    1452
SS9 Hong Miao 3 (12.56km)    1541
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1617

Sunday November 7
SS10 San Men Yuan 1 (16.35km)    0830
SS11 Heng Shan 1 (13.23km)     0920
SS12 Mo Huan 1 (12.67km)    1000
Service – Long Xiang Lu    1036
SS13 San Men Yuan 2 (16.35km)    1154
SS14 Heng Shan 2 (13.23km)     1244
SS15 Mo Huan 2 (12.67km)    1324
Finish – RongChang Square    1430     
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