New Malaysian BTCC challenger unveiled London - 13 March 2002 - The newest marque to enter BTCC was unveiled today in central London, just hours before the team joins other challengers for the first official BTCC test day. Team PETRONAS...
New Malaysian BTCC challenger unveiled
London - 13 March 2002 - The newest marque to enter BTCC was unveiled today in central London, just hours before the team joins other challengers for the first official BTCC test day.
Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton today unveiled their striking new challenger for the 2002 British Touring Car Manufacturer's Championship, the Proton Impian (Waja). The first race car, resplendent in its eye-catching aquamarine, blue and red livery, was officially unveiled by Dato' Mohamed Idris Mansor, Senior Vice President, Exploration & Production, PETRONAS, one of the major global sponsors of motorsport.
David Wong, Team Principal, Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton (Team PSP) said: "This is a proud day for all of us. The British Touring Car Championship is rightly seen as the pinnacle of touring car racing around the world and we're ready to face our toughest challenge to date. We've worked our way up to this over the last ten years by building a winning team involving engineers from PETRONAS that has achieved race and championship victories with a number of different marques in Malaysia, Australia, South Africa and Korea. We believe we have got the experience, the backing, the personnel and the car to mount a serious attempt on the BTCC over the next three years. With the support of PETRONAS and Proton, we're determined to win races."
Team PSP's drivers, David Leslie and Phil Bennett, both well known and respected in touring car circles, were on hand to take part in the unveiling.
The car that takes Team PSP and its Malaysian backers into the BTCC is the new Proton Impian, which has already won acclaim from road testers for its class-leading ride and handling. It features a race-prepared two-litre version of the model's soon-to-be released 1.8 litre engine installed in a modified road car shell with specially-designed racing suspension in line with BTCC regulations.
Team PSP driver David Leslie said: "I'm very excited by the potential of this car. The standard road car is very strong with a first-class suspension layout, which means that the race engineers have a very good starting point for the race car." Phil Bennett added: "With the help of the PETRONAS engineers and the boys at engine builders Mountune, we're very enthusiastic about this new Proton engine in race trim. I look forward to springing a few surprises during the season."
Race preparation of the car has been carried out at Team PSP's new headquarters in Norfolk, close to the Snetterton race circuit that hosts rounds 13 & 14 of the BTCC race series on 27 & 28 July this year.
Team PSP's UK Operations Director is Ian Doble, who has worked with Team Principal David Wong to assemble the team for the entry into BTCC. A seasoned engineer, Ian Doble praises the efforts of the team: "We've gone from a blank sheet of paper to an all-new team and an all-new car in just under five months - thanks to the total commitment of our team members, our associates at PETRONAS and Proton, and our many specialist suppliers around the world. This is a major achievement and signals our determination to take on the established teams in BTCC. We know we have a great deal to learn, and we won't make any wild claims for what we hope to achieve, but let there be no mistake - this team is made up of capable people eager to win races."
In the runup to the first official test day, Team PSP has already carried out extensive private testing in France and Spain. Both drivers expressed themselves satisfied with progress to date. David Leslie said: "The car felt good from day one, with impressive traction and grip. We'll find out very soon just where we are in the BTCC pecking order!"
During the season, test driving duties will be shared with the team's two test drivers Fariqe Hairuman and Mashlino Buang, young up-and-coming Malaysian drivers fast making names for themselves.
David Wong, Team Principal, Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton said: "It's clear from the depth of support at this launch that Team PSP carries the hopes and ambitions of many people with it. We're determined to justify this support fully, as we have in our previous motorsport campaigns."
The two Team PSP cars are numbered 15 & 20 following a request from David Wong: "Team Petronas has used these numbers since 1996. Notably Car 15 was first used by Gianfranco Brancatelli in 1995 in the beginning of our Super Touring era with the Toyota Carina and Ford Mondeo and notched up many wins. Car 20 was first used by Sir Albert Poon in 1996 again with the Mondeo and had been the late Hairol Azmi Buntat's racing number, his favourite, from his first race in 1997 onwards. Racing in the BTCC carrying numbers 15 and 20 brings back memories of our humble beginnings as well the sadness that Hairol is not with us any more or he would be driving car number 20 in BTCC as well."
The 2002 British Touring Car Championships feature ten venues throughout the United Kingdom and is the country's most prestigious national series. With extensive television coverage this season and a richly varied and exciting supporting race programme, the Championships attract huge support and great interest from motorsport enthusiasts around the world. The season begins on March 30 at Brands Hatch and concludes at Donington on September 22. With fifteen teams fielding 29 cars, the Championship should be one of the most closely fought for many years. Alongside Proton, seven other marques will be represented in either the Touring or Production categories including Vauxhall, MG, Honda, Peugeot, Renault, BMW and Alfa Romeo.