Proton enthusiasts and domestic rally fans will happy to note that the National carmaker is set to return to the WRC. Previously, Proton has been a regular participant in Intercontinental Rally and Asia Pacific Rally (APRC). Although no word has come forth from Proton, sources revealed that an Iriz R5 built by a British collaborator (MEM) will be the car Proton’ll utilize to compete in next season’s World Rally 2.
Proton worked with MEM some four years ago when they entered the production Satria Neo in the two rallying series. Chris Mellors’ MEM firm was also behind the last Proton rallying project with the Satria, which was a podium-finisher in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, won in the WRC’s old Super 2000 class and was a title-winner in the Asia-Pacific series. “We started looking at this with Proton last year and straight away we were excited by what we saw with the road car. The size and shape of the Iriz is perfect for rallying. Everything is in the right place: the overall length of the car is shorter than the Satria, but the wheelbase is longer; the strut tops are in just the right place; there’s lots of frontal area which is great for cooling,” said Mellors.
He added, “We’ve got a great base car and into that we’ve put all the right ingredients. The engine’s fabulous: really powerful and light. It’s the [Mitsubishi Lancer] Evo X engine taken down to 1600cc – a process which will help make it even stronger than it is. As well as a great engine, we’ve got Xtrac transmission, Reiger dampers, Brembo brakes and Cosworth electronics. The ingredients in this car are absolutely all there – we’ve put everything into it and with those component parts we’re going to have one heck of an R5 car.”
Proton and MEM are likely to partake in the WRC2 and Asia Pacific Rally with the new Iriz rally car in 2018. The Iriz R5, which will be available in both left and right-hand drive, is set for homologation on 1 January 2018.