Malaysian carmaker Proton will make a comeback to the British Rally Championship (BRC) for the first time since 2016 this season as Ollie Mellors takes part in a 6-round full-season campaign in a Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM) Proton Iriz R5.
Mellors and co-driver Ian Windress are set to tackle all rounds of the BRC in a move that stamps the BRC as a pivotal role in their plans to reach the FIA World Rally Championship with the newly developed Iriz R5. According to Ollie Mellors:
“As a team and a driver, we are delighted to be returning to the British Rally Championship with the Proton brand. There is a rich heritage and strong links with the brand and the Championship, even going back to the two-wheel-drive days in the 2000s and it is very much a place that we feel the car belongs in.
The competition will be fantastic get amongst the other manufacturers which we would essentially be competing against on the world stage. That’s exactly what we need for the Iriz R5 and I`m looking forward to seeing how it compares”.
Proton has for long time enjoyed a great relationship with the BRC which stems back to the late 1990’s when the Swedish driver Mats Andersson competed with a Satria Kit Car to win the front-wheel-drive category. In 2016 MEM fielded a Satria Neo S2000 in the BRC for Mellors, but in a time when the R5 category was flourishing, their campaign stumbled against more modern rally cars.
According to MEM Team Principal Chris Mellors:
“Everything we have done with the Proton since we began the concept in 2017 has seen leaps and bounds in terms of progression. We feel the time is right to launch the Iriz in the British Championship, which we always saw as part of our further progression with the car. This is only the beginning”.
During the last three years the team have developed the Iriz R5 to be ready to tackle the stages in WRC and recently had the two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm to test the car. The acclaimed driver tested the Proton for a couple of times and emerged happy with the developments about the car’s potential.
Related: Marcus Grönholm Tests Proton Iriz R5
Commenting on this, BRC Manager Iain Campbell said:
“The British Rally Championship has always enticed the leading motorsport manufacturers to commit to a campaign thanks to its diverse events and extremely close competition. It’s always been a great fight for ultimate supremacy and having the MEM Proton squad back in the BRC is fantastic for the series. It’s looking like we will have a great season ahead and adding another brand with such rich rallying heritage to the championship really does raise the bar yet again.”
Proton Iriz R5
The Proton Iriz R5 has been beefed up significantly by MEM for competition use, with massive box arches bolted on to fit the larger wheels and wider track, there is also a deep front splitter, a large mesh lower grille, bonnet vents, a roof scoop, a sizeable rear wing and a large exhaust exit.
The Proton Iriz R5 is powered by a 4B11T turbocharged four-cylinder engine from a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. To comply with the R5 class regulations, the engine’s displacement has been decreased from the stock 2.0 liters to 1.6 liters, which as per MEM claims make the mill even stronger.