After a dominant win on the opening round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Malaysia last month, PROTON Motorsports will face an entirely different challenge tomorrow – when it takes to the track to face a rival with more than 1,000 horsepower.

And its rival won’t even be on the track. It’ll be above it.

The figures simply don’t stack up. The PROTON Satria Neo S2000 which Australian ace Chris Atkinson and British rally superstar Alister McRae will drive produces a shade over 300 horsepower. And doesn’t have a single turbocharger.

The competition has 1,100 horsepower. And two turboshafts.

The competition has two 11-metre rotors and no wheels.

The PROTON has four wheels and no rotors.

Welcome to Chopper Chase 2.

Last year, Atkinson took on and beat a helicopter at the Sunshine Coast Airport in Marcoola, Queensland. This time the competition has been beefed up, with a 170mph Eurocopter stepping up to try and turn the tables. In response, PROTON has drafted in Alister McRae. The helicopter might be faster and more powerful, but it’s going to have to beat two PROTON-driving megastars this time around.

The first of three races starts at 0740 tomorrow, local time. For the first two, competition winners will ride with Atkinson and McRae, before Channel Seven Sunrise weather presenter James Tobin steps aboard the PROTON for the final – and potentially deciding – race.

Having dominated the Malaysian Rally with Atkinson and McRae finishing first and third respectively, the PROTON drivers will put the grip, acceleration and handling of their Satria Neo S2000 to the ultimate test tomorrow. While keeping an eye on the sky…

Chris Atkinson said: “This is just an awesome challenge. It’s a real buzz to leave the heli behind off the startline. But I do remember coming into the hairpin and seeing him out of the corner of my eye, it was pretty surreal. It was a super-close race in the rain last time, hopefully we’ll be further ahead this time around! I’m really looking forward to it – and I know Alister is as well. It’s good to have some competition winners with us, they’re going to be in for an amazing race!”

Following the race, the PROTON Motorsports will return its attention to the second round of this year’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championhsip, the International rally of Queensland, which starts on Friday (May 13) evening.
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