… The McRae name is very much coming home …
Max McRae will fly back into Scotland to embark on a month-long tour of some of the biggest and best rallies in Britain. But before that, he’s set for an Irish classic: Donegal. The Letterkenny-based June 17-19 event will offer an exceptional baptism of northern hemisphere rallying for the 17-year-old Scottish Australian.
It’s a place his father Alister has fond memories of too.
After Donegal, it’s an opportunity to sample the exquisite delights of Goodwood’s Festival of Speed before what’s sure to be an emotionally charged competitive debut in Scotland at the hugely anticipated McRae Rally Challenge. Max’s final outing before heading south back to Perth comes at the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales.
Wrapped around an exceptional northern hemisphere programme is Max’s commitment to the Western Australian (WA) and Australian Rally Championship (ARC), where he enjoys the support of Subaru – arguably rallying’s most iconic brand.
Having made a flying start to the WA series with a string of fastest times at last month’s Winvale Park Stages, Max and co-driver Mac Kierans are back aboard an Impreza WRX STI at this week’s Forest Rally close to Nannup, Western Australia.
This time, they’re bringing the blue as the Impreza is transformed to mirror the iconic livery used by his father Alister and Colin when they drove for the Subaru World Rally Team in 1990s.
“It’s fair to say there’s a lot to be excited about,” said Max. “I was already stoked to be driving the Subaru in the WA and Australian Championships and I have to say a massive thanks to Blair [Read, managing director Subaru Australia] and his team for their support.
“To have a winter – or summer as it’ll be up there – like the one we have planned now is amazing. I’m really grateful for the work people have put in to make this happen.
“I’ve grown up listening to Dad’s stories about Donegal and I just can’t wait to get over there and have a go for myself. I’ve watched some of the onboards on YouTube and the stages look amazing! It’s the same for the Nicky Grist. I feel like I’ve already been on some of those roads from the stories and the videos. I did get the chance to go test some of Uncle Colin’s old cars in Walter’s Arena, part of the Rheola stage, in 2019, so I’ve got some idea of how good the Nicky Grist is going to be.
“For Goodwood, everybody knows the Festival of Speed. I know there are a lot of people from here who fly all the way over from Australia just for that weekend. To be going and having the chance to get in a car at the event is unreal.
“And then there’s Knockhill. This is going to be crazy, competing against my dad and my gramps for the first time. It’ll be my first time in a Fiesta Rally2, which is something else I can’t wait for. But, yeah, the whole McRae Rally Challenge is going to be special. To be around people, like family and friends from around the world will make this an unforgettable weekend – even more so if I beat the old boys!
“But it all starts with the Forest Rally this weekend. Seeing the Subaru in that famous blue gives me goosebumps. I’ve seen so many cool pictures from when Dad and Uncle Colin drove Rally GB together for Subaru in 1998 and to have the chance to compete in the same colours is something really special for me. And the Forest Rally’s going to be a big challenge, with crews from both WA and ARC coming – it’s a good chance for me to measure my speed against the best in Australia.”
Alister is pleased to see Max’s programme coming together this season.
The former British and Asia Pacific Rally Champion said: “Like Max said, there are a lot of people to thank for pulling both the Australian events and the overseas programme together. Guys like Willie [Paterson] as well as the usual partners have really dug deep to help make this happen.
“We’ve been trying to get Max across to the UK for a couple of years now, but it’s been so difficult with COVID. To be finally doing that is amazing. We’ve got a real cross-section of events, starting with Donegal – an event I loved back in the day – and ending in some of the best forest stages outside of Scotland!
“As for the McRae Rally Challenge, I’m really looking forward to it – we all are. But for me it’ll be a special chance to show the old boy and young Max how the sport’s supposed to be done!”
Willie Paterson, CEO of Asset Alliance Group, has played his part in opening the road north.
Willie said: “I’ve known the McRae family a long time and it’s fantastic to have the chance to play a part in the development of the next generation of this exceptional rallying dynasty. We’re all excited by what we’ve seen from young Max and to have the Asset Alliance Group name on the side of the car when he’s up here is great.
“If he can blend the raw speed of his uncle with the measured head of his father and grandfather than he’s got an amazing future ahead of him. And that’s a journey I’m very much looking forward to joining him on.”
Max’s 2022 programme is backed by partners AutoOne, Truckwholesale, Realty Lane, Subaru Australia, Maximum Motorsport, Specialist Helicopters, C Plant Industries, AAAC Towing and DirtFis
— By Sandra Evans —
Max’s northern hemisphere tour in detail:
Donegal International Rally
Date: June 17-19
Based: Letterkenny, Ireland
Car: Ford Fiesta Rally4
This Irish Tarmac Rally Championship round is one of the most popular all-asphalt events in Europe. Stages like Knockalla and Atlantic Drive are loved the world over for their fast, undulating and rewarding nature. With crowds closing on 100,000, the atmosphere on and around Donegal is almost as much a part of the rally as the roads themselves.
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Date: June 23-26
Based: Chichester, England
Car: A wide variety (hopefully)
Global motorsport’s annual garden party comes courtesy of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, his driveway and the woods at the top of the hill. The Festival brings together megastars from around the sport, from Formula 1 to MotoGP and rallying plays an integral part across the full four days. As well as driving up the hill, Max will make his debut at the Hannu Mikkola-designed Forest Gravel Stage.
McRae Rally Challenge
Date: July 2/3
Based: Knockhill, Scotland
Car: Ford Fiesta Rally2
Delayed by COVID-19 for the last two years, the McRae Rally Challenge was originally scheduled as a 25-year celebration of Colin McRae’s history-making World Rally Championship title. Finally, the famous Knockhill race track – a place where Colin made his name as a race driver in a TVR Tuscan and in the British Touring Car Championship – will host some rallying royalty as the sport comes together to remember 1995. At the heart of that will be a rally with an entry list spanning three generations of McRae.
Nicky Grist Stages
Date: July 9
Based: Builth Wells, Wales
Car: Ford Fiesta Rally3/Rally4
Max has grown up hearing names like Monument, Halfway and Crychan. This round of the British Rally Championship will offer him the chance to sample them for himself. Sadly absent from the World Rally Championship schedule for a decade, these are the very roads that helped create some of the giants of the sport. Quite simply, some of the best forest roads anywhere in the world.