It’s on to Australia and the third round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) this weekend, where Proton is hoping for a change in fortunes at the 2012 International Rally of Queensland.

The first two rounds, in the Rallies of Whangarei and New Caledonia, have made for a challenging start to the season for the team. Swede PG Andersson clinched second place in Rally Whangarei, but despite both Andersson and reigning APRC champ Alister McRae demonstrating incredible pace in the Satria Neo S2000 in New Caledonia, retirements meant they did not go on to secure an overall position

Rally Queensland will be run over a total distance of 863 km, consisting of 19 special stages. The longest special stage is some 33.25 km while the shortest measures just two kilometres. McRae returns to the grueling Australian rally having finished fourth last year, while for Andersson, this weekend’s three-day event will be his first time out Down under.

Meanwhile, out to defend his title in Australia will be reigning 2WD APRC champion Karamjit Singh and defending APRC junior champion Akira Bamba in the Proton Cusco Rally Team 1600cc Satria Neos – they will be joined by a third driver, Kenneth Koh.

Ahead of the race, Proton celebrated an early “victory” when the Satria Neo S2000 piloted by Andersson won a sprint test against a helicopter – the event was organised for the second year running to promote the Rally of Queensland.