Proton shows potential in Rally of Scotland
- 10th October 2011, 10:02am
The Perth-based event was Swede P-G Andersson’s first outing in a PROTON on gravel and the two-time Junior World Rally Champion was immediately on the pace, setting second fastest time and running third overall after two exceptionally tricky runs through the Carron Valley stage on Friday night.
Scottish rally hero Alister McRae was also in the top 10 times on that second stage, but the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship leader’s determined run in front of fervent local support came to an end in SS5, when a stone damaged the sump on the Satria Neo S2000. When the oil light came on, McRae knew his event was run and his chances of repeating his Rally of Scotland second place of two years ago were dashed.
Andersson maintained that pace into Saturday, where he was never out of the top six times on what was one of the most competitive IRC rounds of the season. Arriving in Perth, after the morning’s action, Andersson was fourth, just 3.9 seconds away from a podium place and only just over 30 seconds off the lead. When he went to start the car to move into the control, the car had no electrical power due to a battery problem.
On stage times, Andersson remained an exceptional fourth at the end of Saturday. Unfortunately, he had incurred road penalties due to the battery problem and was classified further down the field. Unperturbed, he was back in the groove as the event moved west for the stages closer to Stirling today (Sunday), but he came unstuck when a driveshaft broke on SS11 and damaged the crank sensor. The engine stopped immediately and Andersson’s stunning run was over.
The PROTON Motorsports team now turns its attentions to the China Rally Longyou, the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (November 4-6), where the Malaysian manufacturer will be looking to win an unprecedented five championship titles.
Alister McRae said:
“It was great to be back in Scotland and competing again at home. Unfortunately, despite a really promising start, this wasn’t to be our event. The stages were really slippery, conditions were very tough, but we were inside the top 10 and the car was running well. Just in the Errochty stage we went through a corner and we felt an impact on the bottom of the car, it didn’t feel like anything too dramatic, but then the oil light came on and we switched the car off straight away. We’d caught a stone in just the wrong place and it had cracked the sump and drained the oil. This was really bad luck. It was hard to take, but that was Scotland finished for us. Now though, we look ahead to the final round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. I’m leading the championship and my team-mate Chris Atkinson is second, the fight is between the two of us and I can’t wait to get started in China.”
P-G Andersson said:
“The car felt really good throughout the rally. The handling is great and, despite some really slippery stages, we were able to push hard and make some good stage times. I was really enjoying the first time driving this car in the forests, but then we had a problem with the battery on Saturday and the sensor on Sunday. Today [Sunday] before we retired, our only other problem was in stage 12 when the screen was covered in so much mud after a big puddle, the wipers couldn’t clear it all straight away – I couldn’t see a thing! It’s good to see that, on the stage times, we were close to the front of the field, the development is paying off and the PROTON is definitely getting faster. There is more work to do with the car, but the team knows that and we’re on it. I liked this rally, the stages were nice and challenging, actually, really challenging in the conditions!”
Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“I can honestly say, in 30 years of competing in rallying, I have never known such a shocking run of bad luck. After yet another great pre-event test, everybody was really upbeat about the event, then we made a great start with P-G third on Friday night and both cars well inside the top 10, only for us to hit trouble. Alister caught a rock awkwardly and broke the sump, had that been a couple of inches either side, it would have been fine and then P-G stopped with a dead battery – never happened before and happened to us for absolutely no explicable reason. P-G carried on and would have been running fourth, a fantastic effort from him on his first outing in the car on gravel and a real demonstration of what the car’s capable of now. Then a driveshaft fails and while it’s flailing around it smashes the crank sensor and stops the engine immediately. This has been an unbelievable rollercoaster of a season; despite the massive promise again, we have come out of Scotland on a bit of a low, but we’re ready to for the high of an Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title fight between two PROTON drivers in China next month.”
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