Round 2 of the 2012 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) has ended, and the New Caledonia rally was won by Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill. The Indian driver’s teammate Chris Atkinson made it a 1-2 for the Skoda Fabia S2000 powered team. In third spot was Kiwi Brian Green in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

Team Proton headed to the Pacific island with high hopes but failed to convert strong pace into strong results. APRC debutant PG Andersson led the rally from the start and set fastest times in three of the four special stages, but the second day saw the Swede’s car experience an abrupt loss of power as a result of a water crossing, a predicament that would later cost him to lose more than 14 minutes.

After a new head gasket at final service. Andersson’s final day fightback lasted only 6km before the engine stopped once again, this time for good.

Things didn’t go well in the other Proton, too. APRC defending champ Alister McRae retired in SS2 but continued on the final day under Super Rally format, winning three of the day’s six special stages to secure seven championship points. But he wasn’t eligible for a podium finish.

“We had hoped for a repeat of last year’s double podium results in New Caledonia but the reality of rallying is such that all the hardwork and preparation is never a guarantee of a strong finish,” said Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood, Head of Proton Motorsports.

The next APRC round is the Rally of Queensland in late May. The Aussie rally will be the third of six rounds this season, and it’s vital for Proton to get back to winning ways Down Under if they are to prevent Team MRF from running away with their title. Still early days, though.