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The practice session for Round 4 of the Malaysia Championship Series (née Malaysia Super Series) is now on ahead of the race proper this weekend – and bang on time, Proton has managed to wheel out its newest challenger, the Proton Iriz R3 Malaysian Touring Car, for its first shakedown. We’ve gone to the Sepang International Circuit to give you a first look of the first racing version of the national B-segment hatch.

Even in this plain silver paint job without any livery, the Iriz R3 MTC looks the absolute business, hunkering over its 15-inch R3 wheels shod in semi-slick Hankook Ventus tyres (same 195/55R15 size as on the regular Iriz 1.6 models). Compared to top-spec production models, the race car’s body is relatively unadorned, save for the 1.6’s front and rear spoilers and a massive front splitter.

Pop open the bonnet and you’ll find a slightly different 1.6 litre engine from the one in the Preve and Suprima S touring cars – it uses the stouter Campro CFE engine as a base, but ditches the turbocharger for natural aspiration. As we’ve stated before, the mill is projected to push out around 190 hp, over 40 hp more than the IAFM mill in its brethren, sent through a five-speed race-spec manual transmission with dog engagement.

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Inside the stripped-out interior, there’s a six-point roll cage (in accordance to MTC regulations), a Sparco steering wheel, a Tonnka pedal box and Recaro Pole Position race bucket seats, while underneath, you’ll find Alcon racing brake callipers and Ohlins adjustable coilovers, fitted to production hardware.

This is actually R3’s first attempt at working on a car with a torsion beam rear suspension – the Gen.2, Satria Neo, Preve and Suprima S before it all featured a multi-link setup.

As expected with such a new, unfamiliar race car built on a tight schedule, the team was sorting out teething issues with regards to handling and reliability during the session, drafting in the production Iriz’ engineers to assist – one of the benefits of being a works team.

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However, driver and team principal Tengku Djan Ley said that in terms of speed, the Iriz was at least on par with other cars in its category, if not quite as quick as the Preve and Suprima S at the moment.

He added that the Iriz’ first proper race would actually be the Sepang 1,000 km endurance race (where the team will return as the defending champion) in November – the car will be run at Round 4 as well as Round 5 in October as a sort of real-world test ahead of the big event and the next season.

Only in 2016 will the Iriz compete in the MCS in earnest, with the team still concentrating on winning this year’s championship with the existing race cars.

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So what’s next for the team? Well, after years of dealing with naturally-aspirated engines, it’s actually looking to dabble in the realm of forced induction next – the team is working with the organisers to enter the Touring Production class one rung above MTC, running a 1.6 litre turbo mill instead of the 2.0 litre NA engines typically used by competitors in that class.

Djan said that the team’s move to turbocharged engines will spur the commercialisation of the technology used in racing. That said, actual details regarding upcoming road-going R3 cars remain as scarce as ever, with “near future” being the closest thing to an actual timeline. Djan reiterated, however, that these models will be mass-produced – “proper” R3 cars have hitherto been hand-built specials.

So this is it, the Proton Iriz R3 Malaysian Touring Car. What do you think about the national carmaker’s newest race car? Tell us in the comments section after the jump.