McRae back for 2015 Otago Classic Rally
Former World Rally Championship star, Alister McRae, will bring his Ford Escort RS1800 to contest this year’s Stadium Cars Otago International Classic Rally.
The Scotsman, who now lives in Perth on Australia’s west coast, won the 1995 British Rally Championship, before moving into the WRC where he contested 78 events for factory teams such as Subaru, Hyundai and Mitsubishi.
It will be the second time that McRae has contested the Otago Classic Rally. In 2009 he drove a borrowed Ford Escort and led the event by over a minute and a half after the first day, only for the engine to fail early on day two.
The son of five-time British Champion Jimmy McRae (who is a previous Otago Rally winner), and the brother of the 1995 World Champion, the late Colin McRae, Alister is looking forward to coming back to the South Island to try and join the winner’s list.
“I’m delighted to be coming back to the Otago Rally,” McRae said.
“It’s been six years since I contested the rally, and after leading in 2009 I feel that I have some unfinished business to attend to.”
The 44-year old Scotsman will drive his own Ford Escort RS1800 in the event, with Bill Hayes calling the pacenotes.
“When I last did the event in 2009 I had a great car, but to bring down my own car from Perth this year is great news. Knowing how competitive the New Zealand drivers are we are going to need to be on it from the start,” McRae added.
“The Otago Rally has some of the best rally roads in the world. The fast flowing nature of the stages make it a pleasure to drive and hopefully with the Escort we can put on a good show for the spectators.
“I can’t wait to get back to New Zealand to compete.”
Stadium Cars Otago Classic Rally promotions manager, Roger Oakley, said that Alister’s entry would create plenty of interest.
“We’re delighted to be able to welcome Alister back to the Otago Rally, and after the spectacular speed he showed in 2009, we know he’ll be right on the pace.
“He’s a true world class driver, but he’ll have to fight off a strong Kiwi attack to add his name to the winner’s trophy alongside his dad’s,” Oakley said.
The winner of the Otago Classic Rally for the past two years, Neal Bates, is unable to compete this year due to a clash of dates with his home event in Canberra.
After a Friday night publicity start in Dunedin’s Octagon, the Stadium Cars Otago Classic Rally gets underway on Saturday, May 9 with nine stages to the north of the South Island city.
The opening day will, as always, finish with the tarmac Super Stage through central Dunedin – a stage that has been run every year since 1996.
On Sunday the event heads south for traditional Otago Rally stages such as Kuri Bush, Whare Flat and Waipori Gorge, before the traditional finish outside Dunedin’s historic railway station.