Mechanical failure ends Alister's PWRC Bid
Nov 14, 2004
Alister McRae today (Sunday) came within four stages of being crowned winner of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship on Telstra Rally Australia, but was left heart-broken when mechanical failure robbed him of victory.
The Jardine Lloyd Thompson Rally Team driver and his co-driver David Senior were on course to scoop the world title as they dominated the Perth-based event, seizing the lead on the opening day of the three-day event and extending it to almost two minutes before their retirement. The event victory would have secured them the coveted World Rally Championship title in the six-round championship.
“There was no warning or anything like that,” said McRae, who stopped on the 22nd stage of the 25-stage event. “We had been taking it fairly steady once we had such a big lead, just preserving the car, not taking any risks and driving conservatively to avoid getting any punctures. Then, just as we were going through the stage, the rear differential failed. There was nothing we could do.”
McRae’s retirement was a bitter blow after his impressive form in the six-round championship. After competing in events in Sweden, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany, Corsica and Australia in his RED World Rally Team-prepared Subaru Impreza, McRae’s last-round retirement has dropped him from first to fifth in the end-of-year points standings in the ultra-competitive series. Nevertheless, he retains an impressive record, scoring four podium finishes in the six events he contested.
In Australia, McRae had shown event-winning form after casting aside concerns that he lacked experience of the stages, having missed the event for the past two years. He seized the lead on the opening day, setting three fastest stage times, and never looked challenged thereafter. Demonstrating impressive consistency, thereafter he opened out his lead with apparent ease and left his opposition trailing in his wake.
“Although I live in Perth for about two months of the year, enjoying the mild climate with my wife, Tara, I don’t know the stages at all well,” said McRae. “But we seemed to get the notes right and the team did a fantastic job with the car. The improvements RED introduced were outstanding. All credit to them, because they’ve worked tirelessly this year to improve the car, and I think the pace we showed throughout this event proved just how much we had achieved. It is just such a pity that our title bid had to end this way.”
The final points standings for the championship are: 1. Niall McShea 35 points; 2 Toshi Arai 30; 3 Jani Paasonen 29; 4 Xavier Pons 27; 5 Alister McRae 26, etc.
previous article •