MOTOR RALLY: Proton's Andersson clinches second spot
PROTON'S P.G. Andersson drove a commendable Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) debut to clinch second overall in the Brother International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand.
Battling back to reduce an overnight deficit of more than one minute as a result of a puncture, Andersson set the fastest time on five of the final day's eight special stages to finish second overall 28 seconds behind the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Chris Atkinson.
A further two minutes behind was India's Gaurav Gill. Proton teammate and defending APRC champion Alister McRae, meanwhile, finished fourth in the APRC class and fourth overall after enduring a difficult start to the rally in which, by virtue of starting first, played the role of 'road sweeper' for the rest of the competitors.
Andersson's APRC campaign, on the other hand, had got off to a brilliant start when he was fastest through special stage one.
He, however, had a puncture in the next stage which lost him a minute and a half and demoting him to fourth in the APRC category.
He fought back gallantly to finish the day in second place among the APRC contenders.
The Rally of Whangarei covered a total of 16 special stages over a competitive distance of 283.28km.
Proton also enjoyed a clean sweep of the top three placings in the 2WD category with defending APRC 2WD champion Karamjit Singh taking top honours ahead of privateer Mike Young in another 1600cc Satria Neo and Proton's newly-signed young driver Kenneth Koh. Koh, in only his first international rally, also clinched second place in the APRC Junior category behind Young.
Proton exerted total dominance in the APRC in 2011 to become the first car manufacturer to win all eight major individual titles in the APRC which included the APRC driver's title, manufacturer's title, the Teams Trophy; the FIA Asia Cup driver's title, the FIA Pacific Cup driver's title, the manufacturer's title in the FIA APRC Rally Cup for two-wheel drive category; the APRC Rally Cup driver's title; and FIA APRC Junior Cup driver's title.
Meanwhile, Proton's director of group marketing, branding and motorsports John Chacko said the participation of privately-run 1600cc Satria Neos underlined a strong and growing acceptance for the brand internationally.