Sixteen-year-old Max McRae will tackle this year’s Australian Rally Championship at the wheel of a Spanish-sourced Ford Fiesta R2.
The Perth-based teenager laid down a staggering four-wheel-drive debut at last month’s Novus Glass Winvale Park Stages, where only a fuel pump problem could deprive him of victory after a string of fastest times aboard a hired Subaru Impreza WRX.
While McRae could be back in the Subaru later this year, the future’s nationwide and aboard the Ford.
Alister McRae’s son only competed in the Impreza on the Western Australian series opener because the Fiesta was delayed arriving into Australia. Now it’s arrived into Perth, the M-Sport-built car is the focus for Max.
“It’s unreal to finally see it coming out of customs,” McRae Jr told DirtFish. “We’ve done a bit of a shakedown at Bakers Hill, close to where the rally was last month. The car’s fantastic and I know it’s going to teach me plenty this year.
“The tough bit is that, as soon as it’s arrived, I’ve got to say goodbye to it again – it’s on the truck and on the way to Queensland for the ARC round.”
The logistics involved in the Australian Rally Championship are a significant undertaking for any of the teams. It takes six days to get the car to Rally Queensland (May 21-23) and even longer to get to the next one.
“The one after Queensland means a truck and a ferry,” said Alister, “round three’s in Tasmania. Honestly, doing the British championship’s a walk in the park compared with this!”
McRae Jr missed the season-opening Netier National Capital Rally in Canberra, but will drive the remaining five rounds, where his best four scores will count towards the Junior and Two-wheel drive titles.
“This is the best thing for Max now,” said McRae Sr. “He drove the WA [Western Australian] rounds last year, but going to the ARC means he’ll have some great experience of some really different roads types of stages. And, of course, the events are that bit longer and more demanding – he’ll learn from that side too.
“The only downside is that there’s no asphalt in there, but he’s still going to be racing the Radical this year, so he’ll be getting experience of that with those cars.
“Towards the end of the year, there’s maybe a chance to do something in a four-wheel-drive car again – there’s no doubt Max is keen on that – but he’s really looking forward to the ARC in the Fiesta.
“The car looks good and capable, we’ve seen them used in Junior WRC for a lot of years, so it’s good for Max to learn with. This year is all about gathering as much experience as possible and going to ARC’s the best way to do that.
“Like I said, it does take a while to get your head around quite how long the car’s away for traveling to each of the rounds – but that also means we can talk to nationwide sponsors. We’ve got Truck Wholesale WA, Specialist Helicopters and DirtFish with us already, but we can always make room on the car!”