RED and Toyota South Africa choose Alister McRae as development driver
Oct 17, 2006
Alister McRae is to renew his successful relationship with the British rally team RED, when he becomes an integral element of a new partnership between RED and Toyota South Africa. Toyota SA is one of the manufacturers championing the new Super 2000 specification rally car and has been successfully running its version in South Africa for two years. It has now agreed in principle for RED to become its agent worldwide for the Toyota S2000, to make the car available to customers for a variety of championships and RED has secured Alister to assist in developing the car in both tarmac and gravel specifications.
Alister has enjoyed a good relationship previously with RED, particularly when the company ran him in the FIA Production car World Rally Championship and has become good friends with team principal Neil Gatt. Alister also tested the Toyota S2000 when he was in South Africa, taking part in the Zulu Rally, a Candidate event for the FIA World Rally Championship, which he won. RED was already in discussions with Toyota SA and together with Gordon Birtwistle of Proflex UK, the damper supplier, whom Alister has also known for a number of years and worked with on several projects, formed a powerful and experienced package which offers Toyota every aspect required for developing a car.
Alister has had considerable experience developing rally cars during his career. Notably, when he was a Hyundai World Rally Team works driver, his input into both the team’s Formula 2 Coupe and its Accent World Rally Car was invaluable. When he moved to Mitsubishi, his experience was also crucial in helping the Japanese manufacturer move forward with its first World Rally Car.
Alister is understandably excited by the prospect of developing the Toyota S2000 further, ensuring it becomes the benchmark in the category. “I’m very pleased to be involved in rallying again at this level,” he said. “I think that between RED, Proflex and myself, we can help move the Toyota Super 2000 forward and make it the most competitive package in S2000.
“I drove the car earlier on this year and was very impressed with it. It feels very much like the Formula 2 cars I was involved with, in the way it drives; with the four wheel-drive system, the driver has to be very committed to get the best out of it. It’s a genuine drivers’ car, that’s for sure.
“I also think that with a normally-aspirated two-litre engine and the car weighing around 100kgs less than a World Rally Car, it’s going to be very spectacular, for drivers and fans alike. We’re holding a series of test days around the time of the Wales Rally GB, where we will be able to demonstrate the car’s abilities to potential clients and customers, so they can see for themselves how good the car already is, with the promise of more to come.”
The FIA’s new Super 2000 category will be introduced into a variety of series from next year, including the Production car World Rally Championship, where drivers of S2000 cars will be eligible to score points for the P-WRC. It will also form part of the British, Middle East, African and Asia Pacific Rally Championships and the newest series to be introduced, the International Rally Challenge. This was created specifically to showcase the potential for this type of car and as the 2006 IRC was deemed a great success, the 2007 series looks set to expand, taking in classic events on both tarmac and gravel.
“I’m delighted to be involved in this program,” said Alister. “I’d also hope that we could be able to raise the interest of potential sponsors and as a team, enter the IRC itself next year, to demonstrate just how capable the car is.”
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