by Rob Wilkins

It wasn't that long ago Alister McRae was competing at the top of the WRC - first with Hyundai and then with Mitsubishi. Following the latter's decision to take a year out though in 2003 he was left somewhat in the lurch and watching from the sidelines. Despite returning last year to contest the Production Car WRC, and nearly taking the title until a mechanical failure put him out of the final event in Australia, he again failed to secure anything for 2005.

Crash.net Radio caught up with the Scot at the 2005 Rallyday and we managed to grab a few minutes with him to discuss his plans for the remainder of the year and beyond...

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Q:
Alister. How have you enjoyed proceedings today?

Alister McRae:
Yeah it has been good - real good fun. I think the weather in the morning was obviously better than this afternoon, but a good day out and hopefully not too damp for the spectators.

Q:
So you have been out on track. Tell us a bit about what you have been driving and how it has gone?

AM:
It's just a Mark 2 Escort - it's my own car. I've run it on gravel tyres so it is sideways and spectacular. Basically it is just a little bit of fun. There is no pressure for us here. It is just to entertain the crowds.

Q:
It has been a quiet year for you so far. You were going to do a British GT round here [at Castle Combe] a few months back, but that fell through. Can you tell us about that?

AM:
Yeah, it was just a little last minute problem. The organisers hadn't noticed, basically with my licence being an international rallying license they thought it would be ok to run, but they decided at the last minute it wouldn't be. So that was a big disappointment. Hopefully we will sort the licence out and maybe do something towards the end of year with the race programme.

Q:
So doing a British GT round towards the end of the year is still a possibility?

AM:
Yeah, we are looking towards trying to do that.

Q:
Any ideas which one?

AM:
I'm not sure at the moment. We just need to wait and see.

Q:
That would be with the same team I assume?

AM:
Yeah, yeah.

Q:
You of course did the PCWRC last year. What have you made of the World Rally Championship this year watching from the sidelines?

AM:
I mean, first of all it is disappointing not to be doing it. I think when you look at it now, Sebastien Loeb seems to be the class of field and the other guys are just trying to upset him and just trying to beat him. So from that side of things it would be nice to see a few more fighting for the lead or a few more actually winning. But there are times in rallying, when you get one guy and everything just clicks, you can't take it away from him. It is going very, very for him well.

Q:
It wasn't that long ago you had a works drive with Mitsubishi. Works seats next year are going to be few and far between, especially with Citroen and Peugeot pulling out. That's not good is it for the sport as a whole?

AM:
I think it is very difficult now. The championship is very expensive. Manufacturers are trying to cut back. Obviously Citroen and Peugeot are pulling out. So there is a lot more drivers than there are race seats. It makes it very difficult to try and get a drive with so few out there. It is not easy at the moment.

Q:
Obviously Loeb has dominated this year. Who do you see as his main challengers in the latter part of the season? Can Petter Solberg or Marcus Gronholm claw back the gap?

AM:
I don't think they will claw back the gap. I think Citroen would have to be very unfortunate if Sebastien didn't win it. He looks like he will win the championship. But in rallying you just never know. Petter and Gronholm are the two guys who will challenge him if there is a challenge there.

Q:
Do you have any rally plans for the rest of the year?

AM:
No. I'd like to try and do Rally GB but that's not going to happen so basically we are looking at possibly coming back next year. That all depends on sponsorship though, and basically what drives are available.

Q:
What would that be next year - the PCWRC again?

AM:
We are working towards whatever is possible. We would just like to be back out there. We will see what happens.

Q:
Now there are plans to pair events next year. Would that help you run in a private car?

AM:
No to run privately is very expensive. Obviously they are trying to reduce costs, which is going to help but until they decide exactly what they are doing, it is difficult to know.