MEM team principal Chris Mellors has confirmed Proton remains interested in a World Rally Championship entry, despite committing its Satria Neo S2000 car to the remainder of this season's IRC series.
Mellors confirmed Proton will run an IRC program from the Ypres Rally (June 18-20) onward, with Guy Wilks tackling all remaining rounds – with the possibility of another Satria running alongside the Briton.
"The IRC program is fantastic news," said Mellors. "Everybody is behind this project, behind the team and behind Guy [Wilks] and Phil [Pugh, Wilks' co-driver]. Proton is funding the rest of the season. As for what's beyond that, well let's just see what comes from the rest of 2009."
Wilks has already competed in the Proton, retiring from the lead of the Pirelli International Rally in May (round two of the British Rally Championship) when the Satria caught fire. The Proton has already competed on the World Rally Championship, running as high as third overall on the season-opening Rally Ireland in the hands of Niall McShea.
Mellors said Proton still has aspirations in the WRC. He added: "We're still very interested in the WRC, of course we are, but there needs to be a great deal of clarification on the technical regulations. This is, ultimately, incredibly confusing to go to Malaysia to explain the future of the WRC.
"When they ask me if the WRC is going to be Super 2000, I tell them it is, but it might be with a 1.6 turbo engine and that might – or might not – be coming in 2011 or 2013. The board of Proton needs a clear plan and that clear plan comes from IRC – which is why, for the foreseeable future, we're going to be there."
Dato' Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, Managing Director PROTON Holdings Bhd, said: "We are very excited to have Guy Wilks driving for PROTON in the IRC. After his stunning performance in the recent Pirelli Rally, we are very positive about our capabilities to put up a strong challenge. MEM has done a great job with the Proton Satria Neo S2000 and we hope to continue improving as the year progresses."
Proton's IRC challenge marks the Malaysian manufacturer's return to a global rally series. Karamjit Singh won the 2002 Production World Rally Championship in an MEM-run Proton PERT.