Less than a week after his stunning Irish rallying debut in Donegal, 18-year-old Max McRae was tearing up Goodwood’s Forest Rally Stage in a Ford Focus RS WRC once driven by his Uncle Colin.
Next week? It’s a Ford Fiesta Rally2 debut at the McRae Rally Challenge in Knockhill. His main opposition? Dad, Asia Pacific and British Rally Champion Alister and Gramps, five-time British Rally Champion Jimmy.
It’s fair to say, Max is living the dream right now.
“That’s just it,” he said. “This really is living the dream. Donegal was amazing, just a fantastic experience to drive some of the best Tarmac roads in the world and then to come straight to Goodwood is awesome.
“When Steve [Rimmer, DirtFish Rally School owner and owner of his Uncle’s old wheels] asked if I wanted to drive the Focus, it was a proper pinch myself moment. To sit on the startline in that car was something unbelievable for me. What was it like after that? It was all happening so quickly!
“Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I got the chance to drive one of the most fearsome Group B cars ever made. Steve’s Audi was out of this world – the power, the noise and just the history of this car gave me goosebumps.
“I can’t thank Steve enough for what he’s done for Dad and I this weekend. He has this incredible collection of cars that a lot of people would keep in a garage or a museum and he just wants to see them out on the stages. My Dad and me were very happy to oblige!”
Alister was happy to get his eye in ahead of the big family rumble in the Kingdom of Fife next weekend (July 2/3). The McRae Rally Challenge is a capacity-entry event organised to celebrate Colin McRae’s record-rewriting 1995 World Rally Championship win.
“It’s always a real pleasure to come to the Festival of Speed,” said Alister. “Like Max said, the chance to drive Steve’s cars is a real privilege. It’s been a great weekend – but it’s never a bad one here with great company and a lot of friends around.
“But obviously, next weekend’s the big one. It’s fair to say there’s been a wee bit of talking going on the family for the last few months. The old boy still thinks he’s got it – he’s out in a Mk2 Escort, I’m in a Hyundai Accent WRC and Max is driving a [Ford Fiesta] Rally2 car for the first time.
“I know Dad can still drive a wee bit and Donegal showed Max is really getting a move on now, but this is a good chance to show them who’s the boss. Don’t be fooled by the glasses, I can still see where I’m going!
“Seriously, though, it’s going to be a phenomenal weekend up at Knockhill. There’s something like 24 of Colin’s cars going to be there, the whole family’s coming out and a lot of friends from around the world. There’s even talk of a bit of a party, which always goes down well.”
With a Subaru Legacy RS and Ford Focus RS WRC driven, it’s just five sleeps before Max is out in a Fiesta Rally2.
“My Dad and I talked about this trip for a long time,” he said. “It’s been postponed a few times, but it was worth the wait. Goodwood gave me memories I’ll never forget. Will I come back? Are you mad! I’ll be back every year if I can. It’s amazing.”
“It’s going to be something really special to compete with Gramps and Dad. They’re both huge names in the sport and – along with Uncle Colin – the reason I’m here doing what I’m doing. I’m not going to talk about who’s going to win. It’s a big weekend to celebrate what happened in 1995, that’s the most important thing.
“But if you really pushed me, let’s just say I’ll take it easy on the old boys!”
Aside from the obvious McRae family interest, there’s a packed entry with quality from top to bottom, including Scottish regulars as well as global superstars. Garry Pearson starts at two in his Ford Fiesta Rally2, with Gordon Morrison (Fiesta R5) and Andy Scott (Fiesta S2000T) following. Former British Rally Champion Gywndaf Evans is bringing his Escort RS1800 while former world champion Stig Blomqvist drives a five-litre Firenza Can Am with Luis Moya co-driving.
It’s going to be a special weekend.
( Max’s 2022 programme is backed by partners Asset Alliance Group, AutoOne, Truckwholesale, Realty Lane, Maximum Motorsport, Specialist Helicopters, C Plant Industries, AAAC Towing and DirtFish in Australia and is excited to bring on board Asset Alliance, Rentokil, Long Rake Spar and SMS Mining Services for the European events.)