Proton will return to the British Rally Championship this season for the first time since 2016 as Mellors Elliot Motorsport and Ollie Mellors mount a full assault on the series behind the wheel of the newly homologated Iriz R5.
Backed by Thornbridge Brewery, Reliable Vehicle Logistics and Michelin, Mellors and co-driver Ian Windress will tackle the six-round series in the machine which has seen recent development work from a string of high-profile drivers both in the UK and Ireland, including two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm.
Both the Proton brand and contender Mellors are no strangers to the British Championship, having contested the series in the Satria S2000 four years previously but suffered from outgoing category regulations which hampered results against the newer R5 specification machinery.
This time, both will return to the iconic championship with a fresh set of objectives with Mellors being able to pilot the newest homologated R5 on the market and the only example ratified by the FIA in both right-and left-hand drive.
“As a team and a driver, we are delighted to be returning to the British Rally Championship with the Proton brand,” said Mellors.
“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 and ultimately very close if even only half of the rumoured opposition makes an appearance. That’s exactly what we need for the Iriz R5 and I`m looking forward to seeing how it compares”.
The Iriz has already been a proven force on the national scene in the UK thanks to Mellors’ dominance of the Woodpecker, Trackrod, Malton and Grizedale events.
The MEM team have a long history with the Proton brand which stems back to 2002 when they became Production World Rally Champions with Karamjit Singh in the Proton Pert. They were also responsible for Proton’s WRC2 campaigns in 2012 which saw PG Anderson secure wins in Sweden and Finland, eventually finishing second in the series.
The British Championship offers the opportunity to compete against some of the fastest drivers on UK soil and the Derbyshire based firm believe the Proton has what it takes.
“Everything we have done with the Proton since we began the concept in 2017 has seen leaps and bounds in terms of progression,” says MEM Director Chris Mellors.
“We are proud to be the only manufacturer offering right-and left-hand versions which opens up many opportunities worldwide. Not only that, but we have ensured that every step of the way, we have had experienced drivers in the car behind closed doors to gain data and ensure our development is heading in the right direction. 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”.
Ollie Mellors best result in the British Championship was 4th overall at the Circuit of Ireland National in 2016 but sees 2020 as a perfect opportunity to grab his maiden BRC victory for Proton.
“It’s fantastic to be returning to the BRC with the Proton and get amongst the other manufacturers which we would essentially be competing against on the world stage” he continues.
“We have been working hard over the last twelve months to develop the Iriz for both surfaces and I personally feel it’s the right time to return. It will be very tough to match the more experienced drivers straight out of the box, but we have our sights set high this season. We won’t be there to keep the numbers up, wins are what we are aiming for”.
The Championship begins with the Cambrian Rally in North Wales on 8th February.