Last weekend has been a hectic weekend for motorsports fans in Malaysia. Not only there were 2 street demos from F1’s Team Lotus and Red Bull Racing, but also down south in Johor was the 1st leg of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Rally of Malaysia. Proton has fielded their 2 top drivers, Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson to compete for the 2nd year in the Proton Satria Neo S2000. During the previous year’s edition of the Rally of Malaysia, they both suffered retirements, which was massively disappointing.
However 2011 started to be a good year for Proton as Chris Atkinson and his co-driver Stephane Prevot, finished the 2011 edition of Rally of Malaysia in first place! Meanwhile, Alister McRae and his co-driver Bill Hayes finished third. Separating them both is Indian driver Gaurav Gill in his Mitsubishi Evo X from team MRF. Notable names in rallying from Asia Pacific like multiple APRC champion Cody Crocker, last year’s APRC champion Katsuhiko Taguchi, top Indonesia rally driver Rifat Sungkar and Malaysia’s own rally hero Karamjit Singh, were among the list of retirements in the event, showing how tough and difficult this 3-day rally event was.
If anyone can recall the news where Japan tuner, Cusco bought a few Proton Satria Neo to compete in the APRC. Cusco sent 2 Japanese drivers, Akira Bamba and Kosuke Takashino to compete for the inaugural APRC Junior Cup. In the end, both cars finished the rally with Akira ended the day eighth overall as the fastest 1600cc two-wheel drive entry, hence leads in the APRC Junior Cup category. Team mate Kosuke Takashino is just behind in ninth overall.
Personally, I was worried about the Proton team as they have the best combination of drivers (both Alister and Chris competed in World Rally Championship) and a very good car, but lady luck was not always on their side. Therefore finishing the “home” rally in podium positions without any retirements is indeed a magnificent achievement for Proton Motorsports Rally Team to the local crowd.
Please do enjoy the videos below to catch the actions from the APRC Malaysia:
Meanwhile on 2 wheels, last weekend’s MotoGP round in Jerez, Spain, young Malaysian rider Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin shocked everyone when he finished the 125cc class in 10th place. Riding for Ajo Racing, which is backed by Air Asia and Sepang International Circuit, 2011 is his second year to compete in the ever competitive 125cc class.
This is his best achievement so far as this Derbi bike rider did struggle to score points in previous rounds. The top 10 finish by Zulfahmi is not only the best ever finish by a Malaysian in the 125cc class of the world championships but also sufficient for him to end better in overall points standings compared to 2010.
It was a great motorsports week for the Malaysians!