Max McRae begins his bid to reach the World Rally Championship at this week’s Rally Poland as he makes his debut in the European Rally Championship.
The 18-year-old, who drives an all-new Opel Corsa Rally4 built by Portuguese squad The Racing Factory, is raring to get this next chapter of his career started in Mikołajki, competing in Junior ERC.
Success in Junior ERC would mean assisted step up into the Junior WRC for next year.
“I’m so excited,” McRae said.
“I moved over from Australia last month with one aim: to compete in the ERC and to take my career in the sport to the next level. I’m really happy to be doing that with a team like The Racing Factory – the commitment Aloísio [Monteiro, CEO] and his team have shown in getting everything ready in a fairly tight timeframe is amazing.”
Max drove a TRF-run Peugeot at the recent Rali Terras d’Aboboreira (Portuguese championship round) by way of an introduction to the team and front-wheel drive rallying in Europe. It whetted his appetite perfectly.
“I’m going to Poland with good confidence in the team and the car,” McRae explained. “Driving the Peugeot on the event in Portugal gave me some good seat time – the 208 is a very similar car [to the Corsa] and the feeling was really good.
“What do I know about Poland?
“I’ve watched just about as much Rally Poland content as I can find on YouTube and I don’t really remember seeing the cars using the bottom half of the gearbox at all! I like that. The speed is why we do this sport!”
Backed by DirtFish, McRae will be competing for the Junior ERC title in 2023.
“You only have to look at the entry list for this week to see there’s a huge number of entries and a lot of class drivers in there. The competition is going to be fierce for the whole weekend.
“With really quick rallies like this one, you tend to find the drivers can be fairly close – without the slower junctions, it can be harder to make a big difference under braking and finding traction coming out of the corners. On this event, we’re all going to be running at around the same speed – that means we can expect the gaps to be measured in tenths of seconds. The battle will be as big as I’m sure it will be close and super-exciting.
“We started talking about doing this championship in the middle of last year – I’m stoked to be here and getting ready to go over the ramp on round one.”
The event gets underway with shakedown and a superspecial on Friday, before two days of flat-out driving on some of the season’s quickest gravel roads.
From Poland’s fastest gravel to the Scottish lanes
With Rally Poland done, The Racing Factory will head west to Scotland for the latest British Rally Championship round – the Jim Clark Rally – where McRae and co-driver Mac Kierans will switch to Tarmac for the Scottish Borders.
McRae said: “Like you can imagine, the Jim Clark Rally is an event every Scottish driver wants to compete on – Jim Clark is one of the biggest names in motorsport. And the rally in his name is a really interesting one.
“The event has a great history, it used to go through the night – there were some great stories from the event. It’s changed a bit down the years, but the roads are still a very big challenge. The chance to do the Jim Clark is going to give us a really useful test for the Tarmac rounds of the ERC which lie ahead.
“But as well as that, competing on the Jim Clark Rally is something really nice for the family here in Scotland. I’m sure it’ll be a great weekend.”
The Jim Clark Rally runs out of Duns on May 26-28.