McShea and the machine
PROTON SIGNS TARMAC SPECIALIST GILLES PANIZZI FOR SAN REMO RALLY
SUBANG JAYA, 20 September 2010 - The fast, flowing and narrow mountains of San Remo will be the hunting and proving ground for the Proton Satria Neo S2000 when the 10th round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) moves to one of the most historical and famous international rallies this weekend (23-25 September).
Tarmac rally specialist Gilles Panizzi will take over the reins of the Satria Neo S2000 to spearhead the Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team’s star studded two-car challenge at the 52nd San Remo Rally.
The experienced Frenchman and three-time San Remo winner in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and runner-up in 1999 and 2003, Panizzi is also one of the most celebrated drivers on asphalt winning seven World Rally Championship rounds for Peugeot between 1999 and 2003 - all on tarmac. Co-driven by Freddy Delorme, Panizzi is joined by former Production Car World Rally champion Northen Irishman Niall McShea.
A former World Rally Championship contender and resident asphalt expert with the Peugeot and Mitsubishi World Rally Teams, the 44-year-old brings a wealth of experience to PROTON that is seeking to embed its competitiveness in the IRC with a strong result in San Remo.
“We look forward to an encouraging and strong result this weekend given the combination of both experienced drivers and further advancements that have been made during testing to enhance the competitiveness of the Satria Neo S2000,” said Team Manager Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood.
The IRC round in San Remo has attracted at no less than 30 Super 2000 cars which include manufacturers such as Fiat, Peugeot and Skoda. A classic on the international rallying calendar, San Remo places tremendous strain on car and competitor due to the undulating nature of its roads, tricky sets of open and blind corners and rapid climbs and descents.
With the team focusing on the Asia Pacific Rally Championship this season, PROTON’s selected entries in the 2010 IRC are geared towards fine-tuning the Satria Neo S2000 for a full assault on the championship in 2011.
In June, the team competed at the Geko Ypres Rally of Belgium, another tarmac event, but its three-car run was cut short by a technical problems. The Satria NEO S2000’s best performance in the IRC to date has been a second placing at the Rally of Scotland and finishing fourth in the Rally of Russia in its debut year in 2009.
While the focus this year in on the APRC, PROTON’s selected presence in the IRC enables the team to not only develop the performance of the Satria NEO S2000 on tarmac but the chance to measure up against the other manufacturers and stay abreast with new developments. The mix of both gravel and tarmac events in both the APRC and IRC has also provided plenty of valuable input into developing a more competitive package in terms of performance, handling and reliability.
Propelling the PROTON brand globally and generating greater international awareness via motorsports, the Satria Neo S2000’s consistent top 10 finishes throughout the 2009 IRC season has successfully drawn enormous interest from spectators, competitors and the international media, in addition to attracting a large television audience worldwide with the event broadcasted in 59 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and America, reaching 240 million television viewers.
PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia's largest manufacturer of automobiles, and the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in South-East Asia. With operations in key markets from UK to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, especially in countries like China and Iran, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences.
Its offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, spacious and affordable multi-purpose vehicles, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus. Most importantly, PROTON models are now developed with Lotus Engineering, offering customers superior ride and handling experience in every drive.
PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. By listening to the needs of customers, PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieve the mission for the future, with PROTON set to become a marque which builds cars with passion and soul; cars that are a delight to drive - and a pleasure to own.