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Q+A - Alister McRae
Aug 12, 2004

Q: What have you been up to since New Zealand in April and this weekend’s Rally Deutschland?

A: Well, it’s never been quiet! I’ve been training hard to make sure I’m in a peak physical condition, chasing teams and sponsors to try and get out on some more events and I’ve also done a couple of events.

These included going over to Punchestown in Ireland for a promotional rally and driving a course car on the McRae Stages, which was excellent fun and gave me some more time behind the wheel in an Impreza.

Q: Have you had a chance to test your Jardine Lloyd Thompson Rally Team car since New Zealand?

A: In fact, it is a new car. It is the latest specification N10 Subaru Impreza and I spent two days in Germany testing it, trying a few set-ups and adapting it to my liking. Then just before the event, we also spent another day running in the UK, just honing a few things.

The car feels great now – in fact I’d say I’ve got more confidence in it on asphalt than I had on the loose. For Germany you need to soften the car off to deal with all the bumps, because it’s rarely smooth asphalt.

Q: What sort of roads characterise Rally Deutschland?

A: It’s hard for me to give an accurate answer, because the only time I’ve been there was in 2002, when the engine failed on my Mitsubishi on the opening day.

But the general opinion is that it is three rallies in one – on the opening day we compete in roads around the Mosel vineyards, which feature a lot of slow hairpins and junctions that are hidden by the lines of the vines.

Then we go into the Baumholder military ranges, which are among the trickiest stages in the world. The roads are lined by hinkelstein tank traps which, if you clip them, will rip a wheel off the car in no time.

Then we head into Saarland, where they close public roads for us. They are super fast and usually quite smooth. The conditions are so different day-to-day that you end up tweaking the car’s set-up quite a lot.

Q: Jani Paasonen now has a 11-point championship lead – can you catch him?

A: Of course I can. The key thing to remember is that, by missing Argentina, I have now dropped my one round. Jani, in contrast, won’t be dropping his score until Corsica – and that means there are 10 points that are potentially up for grabs by me that he can’t have.

What’s more, the championship’s far too unpredictable for anyone to sit back and assume they’ve got the championship wrapped up before it’s mathematically impossible for anyone to catch him.

Q: There are a lot of drivers still in the championship hunt, so how will you eke out an advantage?

A: On each separate event you might as well pick a name out of a hat from the top five or six drivers – it’s always incredibly close between us. But the key to the championship is consistency.

If I can get a string of good finishes between now and the end of the year I will close that points gap up without having to really think about it. Obviously we’ve all got the same goal, but I have to say my confidence in the car, after so long away from Gp N machinery, is definitely growing.

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