Published on November 21st, 2018 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Proton Saga to Lead Sepang 1000KM Charge
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.
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 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 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 Saga.
For the 2018 edition of the S1K race, R3 built a race car based on the current version of the 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 1000 km 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.
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.