The PROTON R3 Rally Team dominated the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in China this weekend – with Alister McRae clinching maximum points on the China Longyou Rally and his team-mate Chris Atkinson finishing second of the series runners.

Both McRae and Atkinson were among the APRC pacesetters throughout the 15-stage, two-day event in China’s Zhejiang Province. Both drivers ran at the front of the field, but were hampered when they collected punctures after running over extraordinarily large rocks in their Satria Neo S2000s. The tyres were unable to cope with the savage nature of the razor-sharp boulders strewn across the road.

Having led through day one, the deflations dropped the PROTON drivers down the leader board going into today’s final day, but some stunning driving allied to exceptional pace and reliability from the PROTON allowed the pair to power through the field to dominate the top two steps of the APRC podium.

The event ran in warm and dry conditions, with plenty of spectators turning out to cheer their rally heroes through the beautiful mountain stages. And the loudest cheers were saved for a Scotsman, an Australian and their flying Malaysian machinery. Having come within an ace of winning earlier rounds of the series, the PROTON R3 Rally Team finally demonstrated what it is capable of at the highest level of rallying in the Asia-Pacific region.

Alister McRae said:
“Winning the last round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for PROTON is the perfect way to end the year, it’s what we were here to do. We came close to this result in Malaysia and Australia earlier in the season, I thought those events had PROTON’s name on, but it wasn’t to be. Everybody in the team has put so much effort into this car and this programme; this is a great way to pay them back. Having been to this event last year, I had a rough idea of what was coming – but I don’t remember it being quite so rough! The roads were unbelievable in places, but we got through them. The organisers of the event had put in some more asphalt roads which we hadn’t used last year, but these were basically long, fast stretches on concrete, which didn’t really add much to the event. Throughout the whole event, we had our eyes firmly fixed on getting to the finish of what was a really tough rally. We knew we could up the pace, but all the time we were concerned by the chance of getting punctures; as a team we’ve suffered five punctures and to still come away with a one-two result in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is the perfect result for PROTON – and a great demonstration of the potential of the Satria Neo S2000.”

Chris Atkinson said:
“This is a great result for the team, especially on such a difficult rally. It was really tough – the roads were unbelievable in places, with rocks so big they were worse than the Acropolis Rally. My car ran without any problems, the boys changed the clutch after the first day, but it was just a precaution. We knew what we had to do on this event, we knew the priority was to get to the finish of the event and that’s what we did. Obviously, we would have been quicker if it hadn’t been for the three punctures, but when you look at the state of the road, it was hardly surprising!”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“Obviously, we’re delighted with this result, it’s a well-deserved and hard-earned result for everybody at PROTON and MEM. Both Alister and Chris have driven fantastic rallies and, in fairness, I think either of them could have won this last round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Both of them were unfortunate to collect punctures, but the roads were very, very rough. Given how bad the stages were, the cars have run tremendously well; at times the boys were driving over breeze-block-sized rocks, enormous things – and the Satrias didn’t miss a beat. It’s good for everybody involved here that we’re ending the season on a high. We now go into a closed season with a lot of development work and testing to do ahead of next year, but we’ve got the win under our belts, it’s come a little later in the year than we would have hoped or probably deserved, but it’s here nevertheless.”

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
Conditions: 15 degrees, sunny
APRC day one leader: Hiroshi Yanagisawa (J) Mitsubishi
APRC winner: Alister McRae (GB) PROTON 
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