Colim McRae se vraca u WRC

Colim McRae se vraca u WRC

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In the first of a two-part feature, we catch up with former champion Colin McRae to talk about his return with Skoda on this year's Wales Rally GB

Former world champion Colin McRae is back. The 1995 title winner was forced out of the World Rally Championship at the end of 2003 when new rules meant Citroen boss Guy Frequelin had to choose between the Scot, double world champion Carlos Sainz and then-up-and-coming French star Sebastien Loeb, but McRae always hinted his enforced absence was a sabbatical, rather than full-blown retirement.

In the last 18 months, McRae has competed in the Dakar Rally endurance event and the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar classic, but has always insisted that he'd like to return to the WRC if the right opportunity arose. Now, a deal to drive a works Skoda on his home event - the Wales Rally GB in mid-September - has been done.

It's a deal that has also reunited McRae with co-driver Nicky Grist. The pair split acrimoniously in 2002 (since when the Welshman has taken on a media role in the WRC), but their relationship has been reconciled in the past year and, after testing a Skoda together in Spain last October, they'll be making a welcome return to rallying's top level.

The pair talked about their deal and their hopes for their home event at last weekend's at Castle Combe's Rallyday. In the first of our two-part feature, we catch up with Colin to find out what this deal means to him...

So, Colin, why are you contesting the Wales Rally GB with Skoda?
Colin McRae: For some time now I've been keen to get back into the WRC and I've also been having talks with `koda Motorsport that have led to me achieving that aim. The icing on the cake is that it's for Rally GB. It's obviously always been a special rally for me and so if there is one particular rally I'd choose to make a comeback on, this would be the one. I'm really looking forward to it.

What are the challenges facing you and Nicky for this event?
CM: It's been 18 months since I last competed on the WRC - Rally GB in 2003, in fact. I've got to get back into full physical fitness before the rally and I need as much time in the car as possible to make sure I'm up to speed when the event starts.

Is it a one-off, or is this part of a programme of more events with Skoda?
CM: Although I'm ruling nothing out for the future, we're just concentrating on this one event and treating it as a one-off.

What are your immediate aims now that the deal has been confirmed?
CM: The important thing is to get into the Fabia WRC 05 as soon as possible and start work on adjusting it to my liking. Part of my reason for agreeing to join the team is to try and help move the development of the car along as quickly as possible. I saw when I drove the Fabia WRC last year in Spain that it has great potential and so I'm confident that I can help to make a difference.

What sort of programme have you got between now and the rally?
CM: Skoda has organised a very intensive test programme just before the rally that should give Nicky and I plenty of time to get used to the car. Obviously I'm going to be a little bit rusty at first but we should be able to get it set up the way we want and be in good shape when we get to the start line.

What sort of result would you realistically like to achieve on Rally GB?
CM: A win of course! Seriously though, my first aim is to achieve the best result possible for the team and myself. We'll try to finish well into the points and anything after that will be a bonus.

In the second of a two-part feature, we catch up with Nicky Grist to talk about his return with Colin McRae and Skoda on this year's Wales Rally GB

Former world champion Colin McRae is back. The 1995 title winner was forced out of the World Rally Championship at the end of 2003 when new rules meant Citroen boss Guy Frequelin had to choose between the Scot, double world champion Carlos Sainz and then-up-and-coming French star Sebastien Loeb, but McRae always hinted his enforced absence was a sabbatical, rather than full-blown retirement.

In the last 18 months, McRae has competed in the Dakar Rally endurance event and the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar classic, but has always insisted that he'd like to return to the WRC if the right opportunity arose. Now, a deal to drive a works Skoda on his home event - the Wales Rally GB in mid-September - has been done.



It's a deal that has also reunited McRae with co-driver Nicky Grist. The pair split acrimoniously in 2002 (since when the Welshman has taken on a media role in the WRC), but their relationship has been reconciled in the past year and, after testing a Skoda together in Spain last October, they'll be making a welcome return to rallying's top level.

The pair talked about their deal and their hopes for their home event at last weekend's at Castle Combe's Rallyday. In the second of our two-part feature, we catch up with Nicky to find out what this deal means to him...

What are your thoughts on getting back with Colin for Rally GB?
Nicky Grist: I'm really looking forward to it. We're determined to give Skoda the best result we can, and we're taking the job seriously. But I'm also sure the event will be a lot of fun. After 16 years of travelling the world from event to event the big difference in Wales is seeing friends, family and the people who have supported Colin and I over many years - that will give me an extra buzz. With the news of our entry only a few hours old I'm already amazed at the number of people who have told me they are coming out to watch.

How did this deal come about?
NG: We drove a rally together in Colin's Ford Escort earlier this year and enjoyed it tremendously. We've been in touch for a while, though, and we've spoken about doing a WRC event together again before. In many ways it started with a rallyXS article a while ago when I went up to see Colin and interview him. My last question was 'shall we do a rally together again?' and he said 'why not?', so that's one way the idea was born. We also tested the Skoda together in Spain last year and there's always been contact there, so although we've not done a WRC event together since 2003 in New Zealand, I'm pretty confident we'll be right up to speed very quickly.

You haven't competed together for a while. How long do you think it will take to get into the groove?
NG: Not long at all, I reckon. We're both professionals and you just click into the mode. It might take a stage or two to get into the rhythm, but no longer. Plus there's the fact that we've got a pretty good test programme lined up so we should be well prepared. Colin's way of driving is flat out, and I think that just comes naturally to him.

What do you think you can achieve on Rally GB?
NG: We have to be realistic. A Skoda is not a Citroen or a Subaru, although Colin was pleasantly surprised by it after testing it in Spain. Rally GB is an entirely different type of event, though, so it's very hard to say and we don't want to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We'll be doing our best, and if that ends up in a result inside the top 10 we'll be happy.

Is this the start of a long-term deal?
NG: For the time being it's strictly a one-off, although you never know where things might lead to. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I know that we're both looking forward to it tremendously though.


Izvor: www.wrc.com



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