Proton’s internal motorsports and performance division, Race Rally Research (R3) has met its demise and will shut down by the end of May. The decision to axe R3 was not related to the recent appointment of Geely as Proton’s foreign strategic partner, though.
According to the report by Mekanika, Proton’s investment in R3 wasn’t providing the returns they expected, and the call for quits actually came from within. The statement was confirmed by none other of R3 head of department Tengku Djan Ley.
During its heyday, R3 was largely funded by Petronas. However, the troubling state of economy forced both both parties to scale thing down. This year, the R3 team mainly acts as technical support for the Saga cup during the Malaysia Speed Festival series. Thankfully, all existing R3 staff will be reassigned to other departments within Proton.
Just like the M division or AMG, R3 was responsible for some of the most amazing Protons ever created, be it for the streets or the race tracks. Among the notable ones were the R3 editions of the Satria GTi (mostly revered to as the best Proton ever) and the Satria Neo. In 2010, R3 produced the most radical Satria Neo – the Satria Neo R3 Lotus Racing edition.
The R3 team also raced in both touring car and rally racing with the Proton Satria Neo S2000 rally car, which proved to be quite the achiever. Back home, the R3 team swept multiple manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles in the Malaysian Super Series and Malaysia Rally Championship.