Proton Putra WRC – Prodrive-built rally project now part of permanent Proton Motorsports Collection –

Following the re-emergence of the Proton Putra WRC into public awareness, Proton Motorsports has released on its Facebook page additional pictures of its 1997 World Rally Championship contender that is now a permanent addition to the Proton Motorsports Collection, joining other competition machinery of significance to the Malaysian make.

It has been some time since public attention returned to the muscular rally car prototype, and this is the first time Proton has officially mentioned the car. The Putra WRC was built to WRCar regulations introduced by the FIA in 1997 to replace the Group A category, a move that was designed to encourage more participation from car manufacturers.

The WRCar format meant that automakers need only produce 2,500 units of a road going version of any variant in order to qualify for entry into the WRC, replacing the previous stipulation of having to produce homologation specials, such as Evolution and WRX versions of the regular Mitsubishi Lancer and Subaru Impreza, respectively.

To this end, British racing outfit Prodrive was commissioned by Proton to build the Putra WRC, and Prodrive developed the Putra’s 4G93 inline-four cylinder engine to rallying specification and with increased capacity to 2.0 litres, which was mated to a six-speed sequential transmission and four-wheel-drive. For entry into the WRC category of the time, a 34 mm restrictor was fitted, enabling outputs of around 300 hp.

Suspension layout on the Putra WRC was modified relative to the standard car, with attachment points relocated, along with chassis strengthening applied for greater bodyshell rigidity. The Putra WRC was built to meet regulations that stipulated a minimum weight of 1,230 kg, a maximum width of 1,770 mm and maximum front and rear track widths of 1,550 mm.

The Putra WRC project met an untimely end, having not turned a wheel in competition, and freed from Group A homologation requirements, there weren’t any mechanical equivalents made available to the general public either. Happily though, the Putra WRC’s place in the Proton Motorsports Collection means it is saved from the uncertain future of auctions. Additionally, a few Proton and Lotus units have also been withdrawn from the auction where the company’s one-off concepts were listed.

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