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The Proton Iriz R5 will aim for its first ever British Rally Championship podium this weekend as Ollie Mellors embarks on a season-long campaign which starts with the Cambrian Rally (8th February).

After a successful 2019 season which saw four gravel rally wins for the Iriz, Mellors is aiming to secure his first ever BRC podium for both himself and the newly FIA Homologated Proton which will be run by the Mellors Elliot Motorsport outfit and is backed by Thornbridge Brewery, Reliable Vehicle Logistics and Michelin this season.

The Malaysian car firm has a strong affinity with the British Championship which stretches back to the late 1990’s before mounting a strong World Rally Championship campaign in the 2000’s run by the Derbyshire outfit.

The Proton Satria S2000 enjoyed WRC success in 2012 before Mellors contested the rejuvenated BRC in 2016. Now, returning with a brand-new model, he feels the time is right to introduce the Iriz to the British Championship.

“We have spent a good three years developing the Iriz into a very strong and proven package which has received some fantastic feedback from leading current drivers and legends such as two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm” he says.

“I’ve always been confident in the car’s ability and last year’s success reinforced that for both me and the team. We felt 2020 was the right time to launch the Iriz into the BRC where is can really compare against the current crop of machinery that is out there today. We are not hiding the fact that the WRC is where we want to be with the Proton and the British Championship should provide a great steppingstone for that goal”.

Mellors is no stranger to the opening round of the season, having won the Llandudno based event in 2018 with the then development Iriz. But despite his experience, believes that a podium would be a `big ask`.

“If you look at the entry list you can see there are some of the quickest drivers in Europe in the top ten right now so a maiden BRC win would really be a tall order. I must be realistic about this, it has been a few years since I’ve made my own notes and done a recce as well as going head to head with these guys, I’m the underdog here really. But I’ve got the confidence in the car that it’s capable and if we could gain sight of a podium I`d be very happy”.

Mellors and co-driver Ian Windress will also be joined by rapid Junior BRC ace James Williams and co-driver Dai Roberts who join the squad for the first time. Williams, making his R5 debut will drive the sister car, making a two-car team for the opener in North Wales.

Williams will drive the Iriz after battling for Junior BRC honours in front wheel drive machinery in 2019. After a brief test in Northern Ireland, Williams will benefit from a pre-event gravel session before launching into the event on Saturday.

The Cambrian rally takes crews into the heart of the North Wales forests during Saturday, similar to those used on Wales Rally GB before the podium celebrations in Llandudno later that afternoon.

Image credits: D Harrigan Images & Chicane Media

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