I believe many readers has noticed articles I’ve posted on the chronicles of Malaysian current rally warrior (‘Satria’ means Warrior in Malaysian language), the Proton Satria Neo S2000, prepared by Chris Mellors Motorsports team under the Proton Motorsports arm. Not only participating in major rally series like the Intercontinental Rally Championship and Asia Paciffic Rally Championship, but also fielding foreign rally talents in the likes of Alister McRae, Chris Aktinson, PG Andersson and most recently Giandomenico Basso. That puts Proton back to serious rallying after the Karamjit Singh’s era ended few years ago.
If you catch the rally action from the Satria Neo S2000, you will be surprised that the word disappointment is an understatement if explained how the team and car performed in rallies. Since its participation in 2009, the car actually retired more than finishing the rallies. The retirements are most either mechanical or electrical glitches, hence none of the retirements are from accidents or collisions. There is once in 2009 in an IRC round in Europe where both Satria Neos failed to start the rally due to an electrical fault that did not start the car. That caused Guy Wilks, a top British rally driver who signed for Proton in 2009, got tired with the pathetic reliability of the Satria Neo and then parted away to Skoda in the same year.
In 2011 and once again, reliability issues plagued the Satria Neo S2000 in IRC Yalta Rally Ukraine on last weekend. PG Andersson was forced to retire due to oil pressure in the engine. Giandomenico Basso was sadly suffering his first retirement with Proton due to engine issues. The only consolation was they fielded a third car to Ukrainian rally legend Oleksandr Saliuk Sr who managed to finish third in the Ukrainian rally championship.
This is not the first time where 2 main cars were forced to retire in 2011. Back in May during the APRC round 2 in Australia, both Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson (picture as below) retired from the rally due to, well you can guess it. It was painfully frustrating for former Subaru WRC driver Chris Atkinson who is Australia’s best rally driver. Out of drive from the premier WRC since 2009, he admitted in an Australian Rally website that that his time at Proton has been a disaster. The car’s constant reliability problems has continually seen him parked on the side of stages with mechanical problems that the team failed to fix.
I believe Atkinson is not the only one feeling miserable about Proton’s pathetic involvement with the Satria Neo S2000. PG Andersson was a former 2 time Junior WRC champion and his promising rally career hit a set back when his Suzuki team pulled out from the WRC in 2009. The reliability woes from the Proton is hitting him twice so far and no points scored for his 2011 IRC campaign. Should this goes on by end of 2011, do expect him to exit his way from Proton.
I felt that 2 years is more than enough to determine whether the car is fit for rallying or racing, and along the way if any issues were found would have been fixed. Chris Mellors and Proton Motorsports has already been with the Satria Neo since 2009 and by the end of 2011 should there be more retirements than rally finishers (including podiums as well), they should consider to retire this car as it has become a joke among rally fans.
Perhaps like what Jeremy Clarkson says, it is ambitious but rubbish. I have to agree, it is a great looking car and a wonderful handling machine. It has tons of potential as admitted by many drivers too. Results wise, it’s rubbish.