Scottish star Alister McRae is hoping to maximise home advantage to score a memorable result on next weekend's RACMSA Rally of Scotland, the UK's round of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The son of five-time British Rally champion Jimmy McRae and brother of the late 1995 World Rally champion Colin McRae now lives in Australia but will be competing in Scotland's biggest motoring event for the third year in succession.
In the 2009 event, McRae powered his way to second place to give the Proton team its best IRC finish to date.
"It's always nice to come home to compete again,” admitted the 40-year-old Lanark exile. “Obviously, I have good memories of rallying in this part of the world and it'll be great to see the Saltires out there flying high. We had a good finish here a couple of years ago.”
McRae, though, knows that will be a tough result to emulate. With the highly competitive 2011 IRC nearing its climax, this year's RACMSA Rally of Scotland line up will be the strongest yet featuring a host of IRC winners topped by reigning champion and 2010 event winner Juho Hanninen and 2010 Monte Carlo Rally victor Bryan Bouffier. McRae, who is a regular for Proton in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, is seeded at number nine in his improving Satria Neo S2000.
“The competition is going to be really tough,” he agreed. “There's a good, quality entry. It's definitely going to be one of the most keenly fought rallies of the year.”
While McRae has not competed in the IRC this year, he will arrive back on familiar home territory match-fit, fresh from tackling this weekend's penultimate APRC round in Japan. What's more he's looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with what are widely hailed as some of the world's classic rally stages.
“The new Carron Valley stage on the Friday night is going to be a big challenge to everybody, especially with it running in the dark,” predicted McRae. “In October, it's just possible there could be a wee bit of rain or mist around, just to really spice things up a bit. After that, it's onto the familiar stages on Saturday and Sunday – and these really are some of the best roads in the world.
“I know I'm a Scotsman, so I'm possibly a wee bit biased, but Scotland's a fantastic country and the Rally of Scotland is a great rally to come and watch,” he summed-up.