On Wales Rally GB
Alister McRae will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in December, when he competes in the final round of the 2006 series, Wales Rally GB at the wheel of the newly-homologated Toyota Super 2000.
The car will be run by the British RED team,
which recently announced its appointment by Toyota South Africa, the developer of the Toyota Super 2000, as its worldwide agent.
McRae has already been secured by RED to help it develop the Toyota Super 2000 car for asphalt, as well as push its gravel specification forward. This season's WRC finale will see the competition debut of the car outside South Africa and McRae is understandably excited by the prospect of competing on home soil in a new specification of car.
“It's great to back in the WRC, especially in something as exciting as a new car to Europe,” said the former works driver. “It will be good to see how the car compares in terms of pace with the Group N cars. The event is the final round of the British Rally Championship and I think those guys on home soil will probably be as quick as any of the Production car World Rally Championship drivers. Last year, the Junior World Rally Championship guys were also pretty close to the Group N pace, so it will be good to see how the speed stacks-up.”
McRae will test the car for two days prior to the start of the event but he already has some experience. He drove it in South Africa earlier this year, immediately after winning the Zulu Rally, a Candidate event for inclusion in the WRC and so had the opportunity to directly compare it with Group N machinery.
“The Toyota Super 2000 is a great drivers' car,” he said.
“In Group N, you tend to drive to the car's limits but the Super 2000 cars need to be driven a bit harder, with more commitment – that's how the best times will come. I also think that with the normally-aspirated engines, limited to 8500rpm, they will be pretty spectacular, from a drivers' and spectators' point of view. In fact, anything at 8500rpm in the Welsh forests is going to be pretty special.”
The team is still talking to sponsors, so the livery of the car is not yet finalised. However, McRae is looking forward to the event; “Some of my best results have been on Rally GB. And to be out there with a car that's new to the WRC is very exciting, not just for me but for the sport as well. We now have Fiat and Toyota S2000 cars out on WRC events, while Volkswagen is coming, as is Peugeot. It opens up a whole new category that is significantly cheaper than World Rally Cars. And with Eurosport behind the International Rally Challenge, next year should be a good one for Super 2000.”