THE most powerful rally team in the Asia Pacific region has
confirmed it will return to contest the International Rally of
Queensland (IROQ) in 2012 and will bring a two-time world
champion driver from Sweden to help win the Sunshine Coast event
for the first time.
The factory-backed Proton Motorsports team from Malaysia announced it will enter Scotsman Alister McRae and Per-Gunnar (P-G) Andersson from Sweden in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, which will include their only Australian appearance at IROQ on 25-27 May.
Headquartered at beachside Caloundra and covering the Sunshine Coast and Gympie-Cooloola tourist regions, Australia’s only annual international rally will host the third rounds of the 2012 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and Bosch Australian Rally Championship.
The Proton drivers will showcase their skills as highly experienced stars in the world rally scene, while Proton Motorsports returns as Manufacturers Champion, holder of every individual Asia Pacific title and the newest factory entrant in the FIA World Rally Championship.
McRae, who now lives in Perth, is the defending Asia Pacific Champion and 1995 British Rally Champion while Andersson is the 2004 and 2007 Junior World Rally Champion.
Both have extensive World Rally Championship experience representing between them makes such as Mitsubishi, Subaru, Skoda, Ford, Nissan and Suzuki. Andersson contested three rounds of the 2011 WRC with Ford and McRae is about to tackle the 2012 Dakar endurance rally in South America in a car of his own manufacture.
International Rally of Queensland Director Errol Bailey said the Proton announcement was a wonderful boost for 2012 preparations.
“To know already, months before entries open, that we will have the world-class Proton works squad back in action on the Sunshine Coast is great news for the rally organisers, sponsors, supporters and all the fans who can start planning their spectating weekends,” Mr Bailey said.
“Proton Motorsports and its entourage of more than 20 overseas staff and supporters is a high-profile visitor to the Sunshine Coast and makes a big contribution to the rally’s popularity.
“The Proton Satria Neo S2000 cars have been very fast in their past two trips but ultimately unsuccessful in winning the rally, so we will be looking forward to see if the addition of P-G alongside Alister can finally get the job done.
“But the challenge will be tougher than ever. Our course designers will have some new features to test the drivers and with top crews expected to come from India, China, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Caledonia, Alister and P-G are not going to get it easy.”
Mr Bailey congratulated Proton Motorsports on its simultaneous announcement that it will expand the six-round Asia Pacific program into an entry in the 2012 World Rally Championship for S2000-category cars, starting with next month’s Monte Carlo Rally.
“The International Rally of Queensland has effectively been part of the WRC development program for the Proton S2000s over the past two years. We’re delighted that Proton and its British-run team not only have been rewarded for their hard work, but also that IROQ spectators in May will be able to see a fully-fledged WRC operation in action with the same drivers and identical cars,” he said.
“This is a huge bonus for us and a challenge for their rivals that promises a red-hot rally.”
THE International Rally of Queensland is benefiting Significant Regional Event Scheme (SRES) funding under the Events Queensland Regional Development Program (EQRDP).
The EQRDP is an investment program designed to extend the flow of economic and social benefits of events to regional Queensland. The SRES celebrates and supports those events that have a particularly strong track record of growth and economic success for their region.
A state-wide initiative, the program is committed to enhancing existing events in regional Queensland, as well as assisting in the establishment of new events.
Since the EQRDP began in 2001, more than $16.4 million has been invested in 762 regional events, an indicator of the important role these events play in their communities and wider Queensland.
The International Rally of Queensland also is supported by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
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