This weekend’s China Rally will see Proton drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson fighting it out for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) driver’s title. McRae currently leads the championship with 116 points, a mere seven points ahead of Atkinson.
The APRC driver’s title is already in the bag – all that’s left is finding out which of the two Proton drivers is to be this year’s champion. McRae however said that the bigger objective in China will be to secure maximum points to give Proton the 2011 APRC manufacturer’s title. Proton currently tops the point standings with 162 points, and six points behind in second place is Mitsubishi, while a distant third is Subaru.
“China is going to be extremely competitive, given its rough and challenging terrain, the enormous number of entries and especially the high level of competition. And you can bet that the boys in Mitsubishi will be going all out to clinch the title,” said Atkinson.
“Whatever the outcome, Chris and I already have a strong reason to celebrate in that Proton has come out on top this season,” McRae added. The Satria Neo S2000 has been dominant in this year’s APRC, winning three out of five rallies so far as well as securing two second-place and two third-place finishes. McRae and Atkinson stormed to a one-two finish in the China Rally last year.
Proton will also head to China having already won a host of other titles that include the APRC co-driver’s championship, the APRC Teams Trophy, and the manufacturer’s title in the FIA APRC Rally Cup for two-wheel drive. It has also won the FIA APRC Junior Cup driver’s and co-driver’s titles as well as the FIA APRC Rally Cup driver’s and co-driver’s titles through Japanese driver Akira Bamba and Malaysian Karamjit Singh driving the 1600cc Satria Neo.
Additionally, depending on how McRae finishes, the Scottish driver also has a shot of clinching the FIA Asia Cup driver’s championship, in which he currently leads with 60 points. With sufficient points at stake this weekend, Indian driver Gaurav Gill and Japanese Katsuhiko Taguchi – currently at 37 and 35 points respectively – still have a clear shot at the title should either driver win the rally.
Also gunning for a second title is Atkinson, who is currently leading the FIA Pacific Cup driver’s championship with 78 points, and he’ll need to fend off Indonesian Rifat Sungkar for the title.