Max McRae’s bittersweet Australian championship debut

The 17-year-old won 14 of 17 stages in class, but was left to rue a small mistake that dumped him to second


Seventeen-year-old Max McRae won an astonishing 14 from 17 stages in the Production class on this weekend’s Australian Rally Championship round, the Forest Rally, but was left to rue a “silly excursion” that cost him the win.

A rutted hairpin on Sunday morning would be McRae’s downfall. The youngster nosed his Subaru Impreza into a ditch on the inside and lost five minutes as spectators helped him and co-driver Mac Kierans get back onto the road.

But the speed was clearly there, and that’s what McRae is taking away from the event.

“It’s been really good, I’m pleased with the speed from here,” he said. “This was the longest event I’ve done and not an easy one.

“Before I came to this rally there were a few unknowns: I’d done a round of ARC before in Queensland, but that was in the Fiesta two-wheel-drive car. Driving a Subaru in Production Car in ARC is a step up. I knew that. What I didn’t know was where my pace would be.


“To have won 14 of the 17 stages gives me a good understanding of where I am.

“Of course it is a little bit frustrating not to bring the results home. It’s even more frustrating that we were caught out in the ruts and dropped the car into a ditch on such a slow corner. The car was beached and just wouldn’t reverse out. There wasn’t a scratch on it, but thanks to the people who helped push us back to the road.”

McRae and Kierans ultimately finished second because of that mistake.

“To have been running fifth overall in ARC, leading Production and the Western Australian Championship runners is pretty awesome,” McRae added,

First time in ARC in a four-wheel-drive car, only his second ever time in ARC and setting those kind of times? I’ll take that Alister McRae

“I know where my speed was. I wasn’t taking huge risks or having big moments or anything. There was one silly excursion, but apart from that, the rally was clean.

“The result we’re waiting for will come, I know it will. It would have been great to nail this one on the debut with the car looking so awesome in the new colors – thanks to the backing from Subaru Australia and all our partners – but we’ll make it happen next time.”

McRae’s father Alister was naturally pleased and impressed with his son’s performance.

“First time in ARC in a four-wheel-drive car, only his second ever time in ARC and setting those kind of times? I’ll take that,” he said.

“He’s driven within himself this weekend, no crazy risks, nothing silly. He’s still learning the car and the events and to do that and make the times he made is impressive – especially in some difficult wet conditions.”

Up next for McRae is a European tour beginning with the Donegal International Rally in June where he will drive a Ford Fiesta Rally4.

After an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, he’ll then head to the McRae Rally Challenge event at Knockhill, competing against his dad and grandfather Jimmy with a Rally2 car, one week before heading to the Nicky Grist Stages in a Fiesta Rally3.