Ollie Mellors and Theo Bengry will each pilot a Proton Iriz R5 at this weekend’s Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally, round six of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series (31st August).
Mellors and co-driver Ian Windress will start the Ludlow based event as number two seed and will be aiming to repeat the 2018 Cambrian Rally and Goodwood Forest Stage win for the Jaipur Iriz R5 in July. Bengry, with Les Forsbrook alongside, will be aiming for more experience of the potent four-wheel-drive machine after making the switch from historic rallying to the Leominster Car Auctions backed Proton earlier this season.
One of the most competitive entries seen on a national round in the UK for some time will head for Ludlow on Saturday for the in the 44 mile, all-gravel event. Over 160 crews will contest the popular event with stages such as Haye Park, Radnor and Hopton all offering some classic British rally tests in the England and Wales border.
The newly FIA Homologated Proton Iriz R5 will be up against some tough competition and Mellors will undoubtedly be aiming for the sharp end during the day. Despite having only a handful of events under his belt in 2019, the Derbyshire ace enjoyed second place at the Riponian Forest Rally, followed up by victory at the coveted Goodwood Festival of Speed Forest Rally Stage shootout in July, sporting it’s popular Thornbridge Brewery livery.
Mellors last visited the Woodpecker Rally in 2013 behind the wheel of a Mellors Elliot Motorsport Proton Satria S2000. That assault ended in an off in the tricky Haye Park test, so a repeat of that result is far from the Iriz driver’s mind.
“We only had one accident in 12 events during 2013 and it just so happens that it was on the Woodpecker Stages,” says Mellors.
“The Satria was a great car back then and it had huge success during its time in the World and Asian Pacific Championships. But the new Proton Iriz R5 is an amazing car to drive and I can’t wait to compete against the BTRDA guys again as I know it will be an impressive pace out front”.
The Iriz R5 has won a BTRDA in the past – the 2018 Cambrian Rally
Designed, built and developed by British motorsport preparation firm Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM), the all-new Proton Iriz R5 is the latest example to be Homologated by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and the only R5 to be approved in both right- and left-hand drive format.
Seen as the current steppingstone into the fully-fledged World Rally Cars, the Proton R5 will be eligible to compete in the WRC2 category which currently sees manufacturer support from many car brands, all eager to promote their derivative to the world’s markets.
The Iriz made its debut on the stage since 2017 but Mellors sees this as the best opportunity for its first national win since being ratified by the world’s governing body.
“We have been working hard on the gravel set up recently and we are confident that everything is in place to take the fight to the current breed of R5 cars,” he says.
“A short test this week allowed us to settle back in and the BTRDA is a great place to showcase the Iriz at this level. It’s great that we can have two cars out as well, Theo is starting to get to grips with the R5 which is very unlike the Historic Escorts and WRC Focus’s that he has driven before. There are some very exciting plans in the pipeline too but for now the focus is on this weekend. Let’s see what I and can the Iriz can do”.