McRae Scores First Points For Hyundai In Argentina Alister McRae and David Senior today (Sunday) finished the 2000 Rally Argentina an excellent seventh place overall and sixth in the manufacturer nominations, to score the first points for the...
McRae Scores First Points For Hyundai In Argentina
Alister McRae and David Senior today (Sunday) finished the 2000 Rally Argentina an excellent seventh place overall and sixth in the manufacturer nominations, to score the first points for the Korean Manufacturer in the 2000 World Rally Championship. And McRae's team-mate, Kenneth Eriksson, celebrating his birthday during the event, and co-driver Staffan Parmander, mounted a monumental charge to end the event in eighth place, after dropping as low as 21st on the first day.
McRae's overnight position of eighth was improved when his brother's Ford Focus retired with engine trouble on the day's first stage, amid more rain and wet conditions. The time lost the previous evening when he suffered a broken driveshaft, meant that he dropped back from Freddy Loix and Petter Solberg edged past the young Scot on the last stage of leg two. McRae began the day by keeping station with the Ford but the pair were so closely matched that he was unable to close the gap sufficiently to mount a challenge for position. In addition, his lead over his closest rival, ironically Eriksson, was sufficient to allow him to reduce his pace over the last two stages of the event, arguably the roughest, to ensure he reached the finish in Cordoba, despite a broken engine mount.
As Solberg is not nominated by Ford to score manufacturer points, McRae claims sixth place for the manufacturer's championship and hence, one point. Hopefully it also marks the end of his run of bad luck, which saw him retire from the team's last two events, in Portugal and Spain.
"I feel quite relieved to have made it to the finish - this event was very hard on the car and the mechanics had to work overtime but they've done a fantastic job. It feels great to have got the first point for Hyundai, although it would have been good to get a point for the driver's championship as well. That will be my next goal. But it's encouraging that the car has shown its speed and strength to get to the finish - I'm very happy. "
Following a frustrating start, Eriksson began a fierce climb back up the leaderboard, ending leg 2 12th overall and reaching the finish a creditable 8th, behind McRae. Problems arose when a spectator throwing rocks broke his windscreen, and the replacement item did not contain an electrical heating element. As a result, the wet weather caused his screen to be constantly misted and he dropped time early on leg 2. However, as soon as a replacement for the screen was found, he immediately was back on the pace and spent the rest of the event setting top ten stage times, as did McRae, despite an engine misfire towards the end of the day. Eriksson was clearly happy with the result, as well as the amount of knowledge gained on an event he personally was treating as a test.
"It's been a very tough rally - both Seats and Fords retired and we got to the end, so we're obviously pleased about that. I obviously lost time during the event but I wouldn't say it was because of 'problems' - I would rather call it development. What was also encouraging was that on the stages where I didn't have problems, I was matching Freddy Loix' pace. We've learned so much about the car here - more than on any event so far, so that will help us for future events."
Team Principal David Whitehead was full of praise for the drivers, as well as the team in general. "From the outset, we said we were looking to score points from the middle of the year onwards, so to achieve that goal earlier than hoped is excellent. Now we'll be concentrating on scoring points on every event that follows."
Attending the event from Hyundai Motor Company headquarters in Korea was RS Cho, General Manager of Motorsport division. He was able to see the way the team and drivers had worked to secure the first point for Hyundai, on only the team's fourth rally with the brand new Hyundai Accent WRC World Rally Car.
The team's next event is the Acropolis Rally, based around Itea to the north-west of Athens. This is another rough gravel rally and the team will invariably be buoyed by the result in Argentina and also the previous year's result, with Eriksson winning the Formula 2 class in the Hyundai Coupe Evo2. The Acropolis Rally runs from 9-11 June.