McRae and Volkswagen seek Ulster glory British Championship leaders Volkswagen and Alister McRae head for Ulster next week bidding for a third UK rally victory for the Sony, Revolution Wheels and Pirelli-backed Golf GTI 16V. Following his...
McRae and Volkswagen seek Ulster glory
British Championship leaders Volkswagen and Alister McRae head for Ulster next week bidding for a third UK rally victory for the Sony, Revolution Wheels and Pirelli-backed Golf GTI 16V.
Following his Welsh and Scottish International wins, McRae enjoys an eight-point advantage in the battle for the 1997 Mobil 1 British Rally Championship drivers' crown, with Volkswagen five points clear in the manufacturer title chase. Victory in the two-day Stena Line Ulster International Rally, which starts from Belfast on Friday (Aug 1), would give the team a major boost as the series enters the home straight.
Twenty-six-year-old McRae, from Lanark, hopes to recapture the crown he last won in 1995 and to follow in the wheeltracks of his father Jimmy, five times the British Champion. Buoyed by excellent results from an extended testing programme aimed at turning the SBG Sport-prepared Golf GTI from a forest-stage firecracker into a tarmac tearaway, Alister is hoping for a repeat of his '95 Ulster 2-litre victory. "The Golf will be more than a match for the others, but I'm going to take things cautiously. The Ulster roads can be very slippery and it would be easy to make a mistake, so I'll be driving with the championship very much in mind..."
McRae and his co-driver, David Senior (Daventry), will spearhead a four- car Volkswagen assault on the province. Flying Finn Tapio Laukkanen - second on the Pirelli and Scottish Rallies - and Ireland's Liam O'Callaghan will pilot works-specification GTIs, while Ashley Blenkhorn (Louth) and his clubman Golf aim for a repeat of their Scottish Rally amateur-class victory.
Laukkanen, 27, has already tasted success in Ireland with the Golf, flying to seven stage wins out of nine on last month's Ravens Rock Rally, a round of the Irish Championship. "It was a very good test for me and the car," said Tapio. "The Volkswagen will be very quick in Ulster. Alister will have to watch out for me because after two second places I want to win..."
British Championship placings after four (of six) rounds 1 Alister McRae (Volkswagen), 72 points; 2 Gwyndaf Evans (Ford), 64; 3 Robbie Head (Renault), 61; 4 Tapio Laukkanen (Volkswagen), 48; 5 Martin Rowe (Renault), 45, etc.
Manufacturers 1 Volkswagen, 40; 2 Ford, 35; 3 Renault, 24; 4 Skoda, 19, etc.
-- Nick Carter 01530 811882 www.maxcom.demon.co.uk/vwrally.htm