Alister McRae has carried the Proton Satria Neo to its first podium finish in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge after taking third on the season finale in Scotland.
McRae battled difficult conditions and a gearshift issue during the event to finish behind Kris Meeke and Guy Wilks on the podium in what was his first IRC outing in the car, with the Scot now keen to take in more outings with the MEM-run team next season.
"I've been out of the sport for a while, so to achieve a podium on the IRC on only my third event in the Proton, and my first IRC round in the car, is fantastic,” he said. “Everybody: the Proton factory in Malysia and the MEM team in Britain, we all deserve this result. There has been a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes to get the car to this point. But we don't stop here. This is just the beginning of the next chapter for Proton. I know the potential this car has and I'm looking forward to seeing that potential unlocked.
"I've really enjoyed today. There was more grip around in these stages and the car worked really well. We had a small problem with the car this morning, which stopped the flat-shift from working; we had to lift off the throttle every time we changed up a gear. This cost us a minimal amount of time, but the team soon got it fixed at the service at lunchtime."
Team boss Chris Mellors was also thrilled with the result and said he was keen to work with McRae again next season to continue development of the car.
"I've just had a text message of congratulations from Proton in Malaysia, a result like this makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “We've not had the best of years, we've had a heck of a lot of bad luck and finally, on this event, we've got the result everybody deserves. On paper, we came here knowing a podium was possible, but you can never take anything for granted in this sport.
"Alister has driven a fantastic rally. He's enjoying a renaissance in his career and we're delighted this is coinciding with the Proton Satria Neo S2000 really coming on song. Having a McRae in the Proton in Scotland has been a fantastic experience; the support has been brilliant. The conditions today were pretty horrendous in places, with so much rain about, but Alister has done the job we asked of him and brought the car home.
"We're close to finalising the programme for next year, and I make no secret of the fact that we want Alister involved. He's an exceptional development driver and a fierce competitor, which is just what we need. What we've seen on this event is just the beginning of what this car is capable of."