Alister sets up World Championship title challenge
Oct 15, 2004
Alister McRae has ensured he will head into the final round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship next month fighting for the world crown, after securing a battling third place on last weekend’s Tour of Corsica.
The Jardine Lloyd Thompson Rally Team (JLT) driver scored his fourth podium finish from five events this season, moving within three points of the points lead after a determined drive at the wheel of his RED World Rally Team-run Subaru Impreza. Conditions during the event were made particularly treacherous by weather that swung between bright sunshine and heavy downpours in the space of a few minutes.
“Having to second-guess what the weather was going to do next made tyre choices very difficult,” said McRae, who was co-driven by David Senior. “Conditions on the mountain roads in Corsica are tricky at the best of times, but when you aren’t on the ideal tyre it just adds another complication. We lost out a couple of times but were still able to stay up among the front-runners throughout the rally.
“More importantly, though, we had to make sure we secured a strong finish and racked up enough points to head to Australia with a chance of winning the title. I couldn’t take any risks as I knew even a small mistake could end my championship goal.”
That edge of caution, plus a small anti-lag problem on his car on the final stage of the second day of the three-day event, ended McRae’s charge for second overall, but the six points he earned have set up a fantastic five-way fight for the championship in Australia.
“With so many drivers in with a chance of the title it is going to be a hell of a big battle from start to finish,” said McRae. “But I’m heading out there with a lot of confidence: the team is working well together and Rally Australia is always my favourite event in the championship. We’re well-prepared and I’m looking forward to the fight.”
Contenders for the FIA Production Car World Championship and their points totals are now: Jani Paasonen 29; Niall McShea 27; Alister McRae 26; Toshi Arai; Xavier Pons 24; Toshi Arai 20.
Telstra Rally Australia also has a particular significance for McRae because, while competing at on the event in 1999, Alister met his wife Tara. As a family they now spend approximately two months per year in Perth and enjoy the mild climate and easy-going life style Perth offers.
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