The FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) will move to New Zealand this weekend (15-17 July) where the International Rally of Whangarei will take place in the middle of a Kiwi winter.

We’re into the second half of the six-race calendar now, and after rallies in Malaysia, Australia and New Caledonia, Proton is sitting pretty in the Manufacturers’ standings tied with Mitsubishi in the lead with 93 points, while Chris Atkinson is leading the Drivers’ standings with 70 points. Teammate Alister McRae is third with 60 points.

Proton finished second in this event last year and will be aiming for no less than the top step of the podium this year. The Whangarei event consists of 16 gravel stages with some heavy cambers.

While the surface is smooth and relatively kinder to the cars than in some other events on the APRC calendar, two runs through the 40 km Bull stage and more than 300 competitive kilometres across two days means that it isn’t a walk in the park. The cold temperatures (typically between 5 and 15 degrees) and the possibility of sudden rain are also challenges.

“We have made a number of changes to the car from the start of the year and all of them are taking us in the right direction. You only have to look at the times the car is doing in the IRC against the cream of the Super 2000 factory cars to see how close we’re getting. We’re down to fine-tuning with the Satria now; it’s very exciting to see where the car is now and where it’s going to be in the very near future. We have a huge amount of potential,” said team principal Chris Mellors.

They’re in yellow and they’re joining a rally, but there’s nothing illegal about our Satria Neo S2000s! Good luck boys!