Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson will fight it out in an all-PROTON showdown for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Driver’s tile at this weekend’s China Rally.
McRae currently leads the championship with 116 points, a marginal seven points ahead of his team mate Atkinson, setting the stage for what is expected to be a competitive and combative weekend of rallying.
“Whatever the outcome, Chris and I already have a strong reason to celebrate in that it is PROTON that comes out on top this season,” said McRae.
The Proton Satria Neo S2000 has been a dominant force in the 2011 APRC, winning three out of five rallies so far, securing two second places and two third places finishes.
With the driver’s title already won and only having to be decided between the two PROTON drivers, McRae said the bigger objective at the China Rally will be to secure maximum points to win PROTON the 2011 APRC manufacturer’s title. PROTON currently tops the point standings with 162 points. Six points behind in second place is Mitsubishi while a distant third is Subaru.
“China is going to be extremely competitive given its rough and challenging terrain, the enormous number of entries and especially the high level of competition. And you can bet that the boys in Mitsubishi will be going all out to clinch the title,” said Atkinson.
Both McRae and Atkinson had piloted their Proton Satria Neo S2000 to a one-two victory at the China Rally last year.
With the current third place contender to the APRC driver’s title no longer posing a threat to McRae and Atkinson, PROTON will head to the China Rally having already won a host of other titles that include the APRC co-driver’s championship, the APRC Teams Trophy, and the manufacturer’s title in the FIA APRC Rally Cup for two-wheel drive. The Malaysian car manufacturer has also won the FIA APRC Junior Cup driver’s and co-driver’s titles and FIA APRC Rally Cup driver’s and co-driver’s titles with with Japanese drivers Akira Bamba and Malaysian Karamjit Singh driving the 1600cc Proton Satria Neo.
And depending on how McRae finishes, the Scottish driver also has a shot of clinching the FIA Asia Cup driver’s championship in which he currently leads with 60 points. With sufficient points at stake this weekend, Indian driver Gaurav Gill and Japanese Katsuhiko Taguchi currently at 37 and 35 points respectively, still have a clear shot at the title should either driver win the rally.
Also gunning for a second title is Atkinson who is currently leading the FIA Pacific Cup driver’s championship with78 points. He will need to fend off Indonesian Rifat Sungkar for the title.
“Overall it has been excellent season for PROTON. Depending on what the weekend of rallying has in stored for us, we may be heading for a clean sweep of all 13 individual titles in the 2011 championship and that would simply make it a remarkable year,” said PROTON Holdings Berhad, Group Marketing and Branding Director, John Chacko.