Proton scored points in last weekend’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Round 7 of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge. In front of a 300,000-strong crowd, the Satria Neo S2000 of P-G Andersson finished in ninth overall, but teammate Giandomenico Basso ended the weekend in 13th, after a puncture killed his hopes for points.

The rally was won by Jan Kopecký in a Skoda. Freddy Loix, also in a Fabia S2000, was just beaten by 1.2 seconds and had to settle for second. Championship leader Juho Hänninen finished third, giving Skoda the entire podium in its home rally.

The competition in this round was tougher than ever, with 29 Super 2000 cars making the start in a field of 123 competitors. Based in Zlin, the rally is known for attracting big crowds, but with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees for much of the event, attendance hit a record-breaking 300,000 on the bumpy asphalt roads in the south-east of the Czech Republic.

There were 248.48 km of competitive stages run over a total distance of 619.73 km. 34 cars failed to finish.

“We’re very pleased with the way the weekend has gone. Although we’ve had some punctures and some minor off-road excursions, but at the end of the event we have shown a significant step forwards in the development of the Proton Satria Neo S2000. From where we were 12 months ago, we have halved the gap to the cars at the front of the field and that represents real progress,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of Proton Motorsports.

“We have shown what we are capable of. We also have no illusions here and know that there is still much work to be done with the car. We believe we are on the right track here and know what areas of the car we will focus our attention on next,” he added.

Buoyed by its improved IRC pace, the Proton team now heads to Hungary for the next round of the series, the Canon Mecsek Rally on September 9-11.