Alister ready take on the Kiwis
Jul 02, 2010
Alister McRae has returned to the other side of the equator in an effort to land his first Asia Pacific Rally Championship win on this weekend’s International Rally Whangarei in New Zealand.
McRae will drive a factory Proton Satria Neo S2000 on the two-day North Island event, which runs through the Whangarei and Kaipara – an area where McRae has previously competed.
McRae came within an ace of winning the opening round of the series, only to be denied by a Malaysian rock which damaged the engine on his Satria and forced him to retire from the lead of the event. The former British Rally Champion is buoyant about his chances on the third round of this year’s APRC, which starts from the city of Whangarei, 160 kilometres north of Auckland, on Friday evening.
New Zealand is a country steeped in sporting pedigree and the International Rally of Whangarei is a highlight in the nation’s motorsporting calendar, with the fastest Kiwis coming out to challenge the best of the Asia Pacific region. The competition over the rally’s 16 stages will be intense, but the drivers are certain to come out with a smile on their faces; it’s impossible not to enjoy the steeply-cambered gravel roads.
Running in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s winter, there has been plenty of rain in the Northland area leading up to the event and those damp conditions are likely to continue into the weekend, with temperatures of around 12 degrees centigrade expected.
McRae said: “As always when you arrive in this country, you can’t wait to get out onto the roads, they’re fantastic. I’m pretty pleased to see the rain coming down as well, this will bind the gravel together and give us drivers running closer to the front of the field better grip. On an event like this, there’s a lot of local talent right through the field and, if it had been bone dry in the run up to the event, a car starting just outside the top 10 would have had a big advantage with the loose gravel swept off the surface of the road. Hopefully this won’t be the case this week.
“I’ve competed here a few times before, but not on these roads for about six years, so I’ll be making new pace notes. This rally is going to suit our car, the roads are fast and flowing. We’ve shown good speed in the APRC this season and, with a bit of luck, we can put the right result together this week. I wouldn’t say I was confident of winning, but I certainly think we should be looking at the podium and preferably the top step!”
previous article •