Max McRae to take on ERC in 2023

The nephew of Colin is targeting Junior WRC in 2024 - an opportunity he'll earn if he wins Junior ERC

Max McRae – Ford Fiesta

Eighteen-year-old Max McRae will look to finish a job his grandfather Jimmy started 41 years ago when he tackles this season’s European Rally Championship.

That job is the job of securing European glory for rallying’s biggest and best known family.

Admittedly, the younger of the two Scotsmen will be competing for the Junior ERC crown rather than the overall title, which Jimmy was shooting for from the wheel of an Opel Ascona 400 in 1982. McRae Sr finished on the podium on seven of the eight ERC rounds he finished that season, winning four of them.

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Max would take a record like that at the end of this season.

“Talking to gramps, it’s amazing how much he achieved in the sport,” said Max, “going to Greece and winning rallies like Halkidiki is amazing. He wanted to win the ERC title back then and that’s what I want to do this year; the Junior ERC win offers an amazing springboard for careers of young drivers.”

Success in the Junior ERC would project McRae into the Junior WRC, a category he’d been hoping to tackle this year had time not beaten him to securing that program.

He said: “Junior ERC is the perfect step for me. Competing in Australia has been amazing for the last couple of years, but I know I have to make the move and head across to Europe and that’s what this season’s all about.

“Talking to people like Iain [Campbell, European Rally Championship manager] the potential career progression from Junior ERC is really clear and that’s what I’m looking at now.

“There are some amazing events on the European calendar – events that offer massive diversity in the nature of roads, from the super-quick stages of Poland and Latvia to the asphalt rounds in Rome and Zlín. And, of course, there’s the completely new rally in Sweden (Royal Rally of Scandinavia).

“I’ve got to thank all of my partners and sponsors who are making Junior ERC possible this year. The chance to learn new events across Europe is really important for me and my development – but the real carrot is the Junior WRC prize drive for next season. That’s definitely what we’re shooting for this year.”

Ahead of the Junior ERC season opener at the end of May in Mikołajki, McRae will make the move north to live in Europe.

Max McRae / Macartan Kierans - Ford Fiesta

“I was over in Europe for a while last year,” said McRae. “I competed on events like Donegal, the Nicky Grist and went to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed and the McRae Rally Challenge at Knockhill, it kind of showed me that Europe is the epicenter of our sport. There are so many rallies going on all the time right across Europe. It’s the place to be.

“ERC is the focus for this year, but I’m definitely hoping to be able to add some more events and some more testing into the program.”

ERC championship manager Campbell added: “The McRae name is one of the most iconic in rallying and we are now incredibly honored to have a third generation of the McRae family competing in the European Rally Championship.

“I am sure he will follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather and be standing on ERC podiums in the very near future.

“The Junior ERC is a perfect stepping stone for drivers like Max coming from national level to the Junior WRC.”

Words:David Evans