Seven-time world rally winner Gilles Panizzi is pleased with the progress he has made on his first two days of testing with the Proton team, ahead of his return to competition on the Sanremo Rally later this week.
The Frenchman drove his Satria Neo S2000 close to Sanremo on Sunday and Monday, working on the set-up of the car he will use on the tenth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Panizzi shared the test road with his Proton team-mate Niall McShea.
Panizzi said: "The base of the car seems very good. It feels really compact, with good dimensions, and the balance of the car is very nice. Today the goal was to make the set-up of the car suit me and we have done this. I think I'm going to find something that suits me quite quickly."
Panizzi refused to be drawn on his potential pace in Sanremo, adding: "I'm not sure what my pace will be like on the rally as I've not driven for two years. We're not going to be able to make drastic adjustments to the car before the start of the rally, so it's something that we're going to have to play ourselves into on the event. But I really hope to use my experience to benefit the Proton team and develop the car for the future."
Team principal Chris Mellors said: "Even after just one day together so far, it's clear to see what a driver of Gilles' calibre and experience brings to the team. With the timescale that we are operating on before the rally, we obviously can't expect overnight miracles, but together with Gilles, we are working to put together a solid base for the future that will lead to the consistent improvement that we need, especially on such a competitive surface like asphalt."
McShea was also pleased with his pre-event test. The former Production Car World Rally Champion said: "We've found a development direction that could be useful for us. I'm feeling more and more confident with the car, and from my point of view too it's great to have Gilles in the team. I'm confident that we can have a really good run and I'm feeling more motivated than ever to get the job done."
The Sanremo Rally starts on Friday and finishes on Saturday.