McRae and Proton get off to a great start in Scotland
Nov 20, 2009
Proton MEM driver Alister McRae offered Scottish rally fans something to cheer about as he made a great start to the Rally of Scotland: the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which got underway from Scone Palace in Perth this evening.
Thousands of fans turned out to cheer on the association of Scottish rallying’s most iconic name and the sport’s most dynamic and newest marquee: McRae and Proton certainly raised the spirits on this damp autumnal evening.
McRae had the honour of being the first car away, flagged off from the start by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Triple Formula 1 world champion Jackie Stewart was also in attendance and praising McRae’s return to his homeland stages. McRae is, of course, a resident of Perth but he’s a resident of Perth, Australia, rather than the county known as the gateway to the Scottish highlands.
The Rally of Scotland’s opening skirmish was a brace of 1.53-kilometre runs through Scone Palace, a stage which contained a treacherous mix of slippery asphalt and muddy gravel. Despite the torrential rain, McRae and the Proton ended the evening in fourth position, less than a second off a provisional podium on what’s looking like one of the most competitive IRC rounds of the season.
Understandably, McRae was delighted with his early pace. He said: “I’m happy with that. The conditions were pretty horrible in there. We were finding the really tricky places, the level of grip was changing all of the time and this was not somewhere to come and try to win the rally. These stages can only cost you the event. The car has been fantastic. Now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and more rallying in this fine Scottish weather! It was great to see so many fans out there as well.”
MEM team principal Chris Mellors added: “That’s just what we wanted. The test Alister did yesterday went really well. After his first run in the car, he came down the road with a big grin plastered across his face and we’ve seen more of that tonight. The real rally starts tomorrow, with five exceptionally difficult stages in what look like some of the toughest conditions ever. This is what the Proton and Alister were made for. Like Alister said, we’re all looking forward to tomorrow.”
The first leg re-starts from Perth at 0750 in the morning, with crews heading towards the highlands on the A9 for stages based around a service park in Blair Castle. The day ends after 415.84 kilometres, 92.70 of which are competitive, in Stirling at 1820.
Written by Scott Coursey on RallyBuzz.com
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