Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally preview

Ford's all-star rally line-up pays tribute to colin mcrae BRENTWOOD, Essex - Seventy iconic Ford performance cars will be among the 140 entrants lining up to compete in the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally in Scotland this weekend. With a...

Ford's all-star rally line-up pays tribute to colin mcrae

BRENTWOOD, Essex - Seventy iconic Ford performance cars will be among the 140 entrants lining up to compete in the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally in Scotland this weekend.

With a unique national rally entry list, this special event will pay tribute to 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae, who lost his life in a helicopter crash last year.

McRae joined Ford in 1999 and drove a Ford Focus World Rally Car for four seasons. He claimed the Focus's first WRC win in Kenya's legendary Safari Rally, going on to win nine times with Ford and finish second in the world championship in 2001. His commitment and bravery behind the wheel marked him out as a sporting superstar and earned him legions of fans across the globe.

This weekend's star-studded entry list includes 15 rally greats at the head of the field in two-wheel drive cars. Ex-world champions Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen and Stig Blomqvist will all drive Mk2 Ford Escorts, while Bjorn Waldegård, who helped Ford win its first manufacturers' world title in 1979 in an Escort, will also compete.

Other big-name drivers at the wheel of Ford Escorts include Colin's younger brother, Alister McRae, Malcolm Wilson, Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, Kris Meeke and Russell Brookes.

Four British champions, three American champions and six Scottish champions are among the starters set to deliver a stunning spectacle for the thousands of spectators expected to line the forest tracks on Saturday 27 September.

Organised by Coltness Car Club, the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally will start and finish in Perth with a service halt at Aberfeldy. The route will include five of the most evocative stages in British rallying including three of Colin's favourites at Craigvinean, Drummond Hill and Errochty.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team director, Malcolm Wilson, was McRae's boss during his time with the official Ford team. "The calibre of drivers coming to pay tribute to Colin is a mark of the esteem in which he was held," said Wilson. "I'm honoured to be among Colin's former friends and rivals at what will be a remarkable occasion."

Wilson's son, Matthew, a driver for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team in the WRC, will also compete. The 21-year-old will drive a 2005-specification Focus RS World Rally Car.

Fittingly the most popular car in the entry list is the Ford Escort -- with 52 examples set to start. Ford is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Escort throughout 2008. The model's launch in 1968 heralded one of the finest chapters in the Blue Oval's rally history. It won the manufacturers' world title in 1979 while Waldegård and Vatanen lifted the drivers' world crown in 1979 and 1981 in Escorts.

"We are proud to be so heavily represented with some iconic Ford models at such an evocative event in the rallying calendar," said Mark Deans, Ford of Europe's Motorsport Director. "Colin McRae was a great ambassador for both Ford Motor Company and the sport of rallying and an inspirational figure to a generation of supporters."

This year's event is also the final round of the 2008 County Saab Scottish Rally Championship at which this year's national champion will be confirmed.

-credit: ford

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Series RALLY , WRC