Proton has started pre-season tests for its Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car, which will compete a full season in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and selected races of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2010, according to Alister McRae during our recent taxi ride session with him. The team plans to campaign more than one car, so it’s using a test session in Wales as a chance to “audition” new drivers.

Finland’s Anton Alen and Matti Rantanen and Belgian Francois Duval drove the Neo S2000 at the Sweet Lamb test facility in Wales. Chris Mellors, who runs MEM, the outfit that built the car, said: “We had three great drivers who gave us some very positive and valuable feedback. From our point of view one of the most encouraging things is that we put the equivalent of a world championship rally distance on the car without having to do any work to it.”

Alen, who is considering Proton as one of his options for next season’s IRC, said: “The car felt very stable and the engine had a really good spread of torque right from the bottom all the way to the top.”

A couple of days after the test, Duval slipped on some ice back in his homeland and broke two vertebrae in his back. He is expected to recover fully, but will be out of action for at least eight weeks.