Team Proton R3’s third consecutive win in the recent Sepang 1000km (S1K) race certainly grabbed headlines but also deserving praise was the was the impressive result for the team’s third car. This was a Saga with an all-ladies crew comprising Faye Kusairi, Nurul Husna and Leona Chin.
Unlike the other R3 drivers, Faye and Nurul did not have prior experience of competing in the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS). They were selected via the team’s lady drivers search initiative. Leona, however, is a professional racer who has been competing in the MCS.
From 26th to 7th
In the tough 9-hour race, the trio put in a fine effort after starting from 26th position to finish a respectable seventh. A demonstration of team spirit and skill, the 2019 S1K was in fact the first time all three shared the same car.
Despite their unfamiliarity with each other, the inherent speed of all three was evident during practice sessions for the race. They were consistently setting times that put them in the top eight. Their qualifying session however was compromised by a small technical issue, consigning them to start from the back of the M-Production class grid. Nevertheless starting 26th did not dampen their spirit and during the race, they drove with great skill and patience, methodically working their way up through the field.
“The S1K was extremely memorable and surreal for me. I am amazed we finished seventh from 26th on the grid but it proves how quick the Proton Saga and our trio of drivers really is. To be honest, I really feel that if we were given another chance, I think we can make it up on to the podium,” said Faye.
“Our lady race drivers performed admirably and drove really well to mount a great comeback from their low grid position. To finish seventh in what is one of the toughest S1K races in recent memory is a great achievement and the best finish ever achieved at the race for an all-ladies driving crew,” said a delighted Gary Lee, Head of Team Proton R3.
Proton Saga proves racing prowess
Despite being R3’s newest car, the 2019 Proton Saga has already proven its ability to be a quick track car. The short development cycle (the model was launched in August this year) meant the team faced a tremendous challenge to get it ready on time, but the results have proven how suitable the Saga is for motorsports.
“The Proton Saga is a model synonymous with Proton and was the very first model the company used for motorsports. In more recent times, we favoured other models but last year we started using it again for the MCS and S1K in 2018. This year’s car is brand new and despite the very short timelines, the results have been very impressive. This therefore proves the Proton Saga is capable of performing in a variety of environments, from daily commuting to family outings and competing in Malaysia’s biggest race, making it truly a Malaysian favourite,” said Dr Li Chunrong, CEO Of Proton.