Today will see drivers Giandomenico Basso and Per Gunnar Andersson lead Proton’s return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) when the Malaysian manufacturer competes at the Monte Carlo Rally for the opening round of the 2012 FIA Super World Rally Championship (S-WRC).

Proton’s participation in the S-WRC comes 10 years after it first won the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship in 2002. Last year was a successful year for the Proton team, which was crowned champion in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), clean sweeping every title on offer.

This is Proton’s second visit to the historic rally after making its debut last year on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), which is run on a similar but shorter route. Yours truly was freezing himself with the team there last year, sharing the heartbreak of two retirements after so much promise. Better luck this time guys!

Anyway, the S-WRC is a companion series to the WRC and is driven on the same special stages. First introduced in 2010, it is limited to production-based cars homologated under the Super 2000 rules. The S-WRC also splits the Production World Rally Championship (P-WRC, previously open to both Super 2000 and Group N4 cars) into two separate competitions.

Proton will compete in five of the seven S-WRC rounds in 2012, and we hear that some privateers will also get behind the wheel of the Satria Neo S2000.

“We start the Monte Carlo Rally and the 2012 S-WRC season with what is a winning car, having clinched last year’s APRC title, and given the positive results we have achieved in testing throughout the winter break, we look forward to a strong and competitive season ahead,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of Proton Motorsports.

The 2012 Monte Carlo Rally will be run over 18 special stages totaling 430 km of competitive distance in temperatures as low as five degrees. This year’s 80th edition marks the return of WRC to Monte Carlo after a three-year absence. Flag off is at the French city of Valence with two stages to be run twice before heading to the mountainous Ardeche, Haut Loire and Drôme regions, eventually finishing in glamorous Monaco.