Subang Jaya, 21 November 2018 – Team Proton R3 (R3), winners of the Sepang 1000KM Endurance Race (S1K) in 2017 will be defending its title in the 2018 edition of the event with a new car spearheading its efforts. The Proton Saga will be competing in the S1K for the first time alongside the Proton Iriz in a two-car effort that R3 hopes will bring a second consecutive and fourth overall race win for PROTON.
Reintroducing the Proton Saga to motor racing
The Proton Saga was PROTON’s first model and therefore the car that introduced the PROTON brand to the world. It was also the first Proton used by the Company in motor sports. From circuit racing to rallying, the Proton Saga competed in a wide variety of events, winning against more fancied opponents and bringing fame and glory to Malaysian motorsports and PROTON.
Aside from manufacturer backed efforts, the Proton Saga is also the car of choice for budding racers to get their first taste of competition. Its affordable price, robust mechanical components and long production run mean it’s easy to obtain a unit and modify it for competition use. There are numerous events still catering to the car including the MSF Saga Cup, which has classes for beginners, advanced drivers and racing professionals who all drive the Proton Saga.
For the 2018 edition of the S1K race R3 built a race car based on the current version of the Proton Saga, which was launched in 2016. The high torsional rigidity (now 12,000Nm/deg from 10,000Nm/deg previously) of its body makes it an ideal platform for competition use while its balanced handling and proven mechanical package are suited to a 1000km race where cars are tested to the limit over 181 hot and fast laps.
“The Proton Saga has a long history of competing and winning in various motorsports competitions and the S1K is the perfect platform to reintroduce Proton fans to our R3 racing division while reminding them about the racing heritage of our best-selling model. This will be the first time the current Proton Saga will be competing and it will be racing against very stiff competition but we believe in the ability of R3 to develop a competitive machine,” said Abdul Rashid Musa, Chief Executive Officer of Proton Edar.
Proton R3 responsible for 15 years of racing success
PROTON’s Motorsports Division, Proton R3, was established in 2003. Specialising in the research, development and production of race and rally cars, R3 has also been responsible for limited-edition R3 road cars as well as parts and accessories carrying the R3 brand name.
Over the last 15 years, they participated in and won some of the most prestigious motorsports events both in Malaysia and throughout the region. Highlights include winning the Merdeka Millennium Endurance event in 2005 and 2006 as well as three victories at the S1K race in 2012, 2014 and last year, 2017.
For this year’s campaign, the R3 race team will be made up of 21 crew members as well as 15 students from DRB-HICOM University of Automotive Malaysia in Pekan, Pahang. The four drivers who competed for the team in 2017 have been brought back with the winning driver pairing from 2017, consisting of veteran Admi Shahrul and James Veerapan, given the task of trying to repeat their victory at the wheel of the all-new Proton Saga. Fariqe Hairuman and Syafiq Ali will race in a Proton Iriz, which was on track for victory last year when a minor mechanical issue cruelly robbed them of glory.
“While some teams may have three drivers per car, Proton R3 has chosen to go with just two as we want to maximise the amount of time each has behind the wheel. This allows them to build a good rhythm, which is important for setting consistent lap times in such a long race. Typically, races like the Sepang 1000KM require teams to go flat out for the first few laps before driving at a predetermined pace to preserve the car and components such as tyres and brakes,” said Gary Lee, Team Principle of Proton R3.
“Consistency and reliability are vital to winning as pushing too hard can cause mechanical issues. We know it’s very difficult to make up for lost time in the pits, but by fielding two competitive cars Proton R3 was still able to win in 2017. This year we aim to get both cars on the podium, a tough task as the Proton Saga is a brand new car, but with teamwork and a little bit of luck, I am confident of adding more glory to the company’s record of racing success,” he added.