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Sting in the tail after first stage win for Alister McRae
Dec 02, 2006

After an excellent second leg of this weekend’s Wales Rally GB, there was a sting in the tail for Alister McRae and co-driver Gordon Noble. After posting a fastest and second fastest stage time in Group N, their Toyota Corolla Super 2000R suffered suspension damage and was forced to retire.

The day began damp after another night of rain and Alister began where he left off at the end of the first day, developing speed on every stage. Alister and Gordon improved their stage position with every timed test, despite the stages in the military range around Epynt based on high-speed roads, which the team had not the opportunity to test on.

Even though the car was performing well, Alister felt that there was more to come, particularly from the engine. The RED World Rally Team worked on the engine parameters at the lunchtime service and the results were immediately apparent.

Alister went on to set the second-fastest stage time in Group N on the second run through the Crychan stage and then went one better. He set the fastest time in the category on Epynt 2, demonstrating the potential of the new Toyota in the FIA World Rally Championship.

However, the feeling was to be short-lived. On the next stage, a ball-joint on the Toyota’s suspension collapsed and the wheel tucked into the wheel arch, pulling the driveshaft out of the front differential. With no drive to the front of the car, McRae was not able to continue and therefore, retired from the second leg of the event. However, with the car returned to service, the team confirmed that Alister and Gordon will return for the third and final leg under SupeRally regulations.

“We did some work on the engine at the first service, as I felt we were struggling a little, power-wise,” said Alister. “After that, the car felt great; the engine was very strong and the chassis was very good. I was delighted that we were able to get a stage win this early on in the car’s debut – it shows just how much potential there is, especially when you consider how young it is in the WRC.

“The problem with the ball-joint was completely unexpected and of course, very disappointing. It’s not something that the car has experienced before and must be something specific to this event. So we will investigate what happened and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We’ll return for the final leg of the event, to make sure we get as much information about the car to develop it for the future.”

The last leg of the event comprises two stages run twice, before the crews head back to Cardiff for the finish podium.

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