Monday, November 23, 2009

Legacy Of McRae's Family Continues.....

The Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 of the Proton R3 Team entered its first Asia-Pacific Rally Championship held in Johor, Malaysia. Local rally veteran, Karamjit Singh was behind the wheel with co-driver Jagdev Singh. A disappointing outing put paid to the fortunes of Karamjit and Jagdev.

At the following round of the APRC in Makassar, Indonesia, Scotsman Alister McRae took over the wheels of the Satria Neo S2000 with Aussie Bill Hayes as co-driver.

McRAE. A name that has long been synonymous with the spectacular sport of rallying.

Alister is one third of the “First Family of Rallying”. Alongside his father Jimmy and his late brother Colin, the family have dominated world rallying for the best part of the last 30 years. Between them, they have won just about every title that are worth winning, notable among them are the British, Asia-Pacific and World Rally championships.

Now residing in Perth, Australia, Alister has with him a wealth of experience as a driver, as well as providing technical assistance and testing to some of the most famous rally teams in the world, and now, he’s bringing all these with him to Proton.

Seeing the proximity of the APRC events and his country of residence, Alister duly took up the challenge of driving for a manufacturer team again after 3 long years. Another factor in Alister’s decision is the potential of the Satria Neo S2000 as a winner.

As Alister put it, “I drove the car briefly and I have to say, it feels very good. I’m looking forward to being back in a works car in an FIA series. When you look at the Satria in the IRC, it’s very competitive.”

During the Indonesian rally, Alister and the Satria Neo S2000 were doing well amongst more powerful turbo-charged cars when an embedded rock proved to be their Achilles’ heel. The rock damaged the oil sump extensively. Despite it being repaired for Day 2 of the rally, more misfortune befell the team when a failed power-steering system put paid to their challenge prematurely.

Commenting on the weekend, Alister said: “Obviously it’s frustrating to end a rally like this, especially when we looked like we were capable of a good result. But you have to remember that the car is very young and at an early stage of its development and this was a really rough event – far rougher than previous years, according to the other competitors.

There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend though. The pace was good on an event that perhaps didn’t suit S2000 cars particularly well. We were not far off Cody [Crocker’s] times when we were running well, so that is very encouraging. I believe with what we’ve learned this weekend, and with some time to react then there is no reason why the Proton Satria can’t be a winner.”

It was then on to Longyou, China for the final leg of the APRC.

In this rally, Alister was very impressive, but a loose front suspension-arm during Leg 2 put paid to any hopes of seeing Alister and the Satria Neo S2000 finishing credibly. They were then running in a very impressive and credible 4th place sandwiched by more powerful turbo-charged cars. Disappointment yet again!

Alister finally tasted the fruit of his hard labour, finishing on the podium in 3rd, at the 12th and final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge held in his home-country, Scotland, amidst dreadful weather conditions.

Speaking at the end of the event, Alister said: “It’s been a great weekend, both for me and for Proton. To come here and get Proton’s first podium in the IRC is a great result. It’s a very small team and a very young team in the IRC and I think that they will only go from strength to strength.”

“There is still a lot of potential to be unlocked from the car and we have proved this weekend that the car is quick and can only get quicker. We tried a new engine before the event, for example, which was better but we decided not to use it as it isn’t proven yet. The chassis is probably one of the best chassis I have ever driven and the levels of grip are really good, so all together, it’s a very good car.”

“It’s very early days for Proton and I think that Mellors Elliot Motorsport has done a fantastic job to develop the car themselves. Proton are now very keen to move forward, so I hope that I can be part of that and come and fight with the likes of Kris (Meeke) and Guy (Wilks) again.”

The multi-talented and highly-gifted Alister McRae with co-driver Bill Hayes in the Satria Neo S2000, and together with the Proton R3 Team will definitely be mounting a serious challenge in the APRC 2010 series next year, or will it be the IRC for Alister?

With about 80 WRC events and other various rallies under his belt and a continued enthusiasm for the sport, Alister is looking forward to a new chapter in his motorsports career, and together with Proton they will be a very formidable combination and a force to be reckoned with and hopefully be harvesting the fruits of their labour next year.

A message to all the APRC/IRC guys out there:

The Legacy is back, come rain or shine!

Alister McRae’s Personal Profile:

Born: December 1970

Lives: Perth, Australia

Married: Tara

Children: Emmie and Max

Hobbies: Mountain-biking; motorcycling; skiing; running around with Emmie and Max

Career Summary:

1989/90: Scottish Rally Championship - Vauxhall Nova

1991: Vauxhall Nova GSi Challenge - Vauxhall Nova

1993: British Rally Championship - Subaru Legacy

1994/95: British Rally Championship, selected WRC rounds - Nissan Sunny GTi

1997/98: British Rally Championship, selected WRC rounds - VW Golf GTi

1999/01: World Rally Championship - Hyundai Coupe & Accent WRC

2002/03: Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII

2004: FIA production WRC - Subaru

2006: Chinese Rally Championship - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX other selected International events

Notable Achievement:

1989: Scottish 1300 Rally Champion, Challenger Champion

1990: Scottish 1300 Rally Champion

1992: Group N British Rally Champion

1995: British Rally Champion

1999: Joint Formula 2 Asia-Pacific Rally Champion

Number of World Rally Championship events competed: 72

Number of WRC Formula 2 wins: 7

Number of WRC Formula 2 podiums: 10

Number of WRC Group N wins: 2

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