COLIN McRAE CONFIRMED FOR WALES RALLY GB * Britain's first World Rally Champion returns with Skoda. * Welshman Nicky Grist to co-drive. Colin McRae, MBE, will drive a 2005-specification Skoda Fabia World Rally Car for the Skoda Motorsport...
COLIN McRAE CONFIRMED FOR WALES RALLY GB
* Britain's first World Rally Champion returns with Skoda.
* Welshman Nicky Grist to co-drive.
Colin McRae, MBE, will drive a 2005-specification Skoda Fabia World Rally Car for the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team in Wales Rally GB (September 15-18). The 1995 World Rally Champion will be partnered by Abergavenny's Nicky Grist, (43), the pairing reunited for the first time since the Rally of New Zealand in 2003.
McRae tested a Fabia WRC on asphalt prior to last year's Catalunya Rally in Spain but Wales Rally GB will be the first time the 37-year old Scotsman from Lanark will experience the four-wheel-drive, 300 BHP Fabia in competition.
"Rally GB is obviously very special to me, so I am very much looking forward to competing on my home event and giving the fans something to cheer. This is an opportunity for me to utilise my experience to help the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team develop the Fabia WRC 05 in a positive way for the future. Although I have not competed in a World Rally Car since Rally GB 2003, the team have put together an extensive testing programme which will give me the opportunity to evaluate the Fabia and have it set up to my liking. It will also allow myself and Nicky to get ourselves up to speed before the event itself," said Colin.
The Czech Republic-based Skoda Motorsport Team has nominated Colin for both the WRC Driver's and Manufacturers points. He will be teamed with Germany's Armin Schwarz, another veteran of over 100 WRC events, who is in his fifth season with the Skoda team.
Commenting on his success in securing McRae, Joan Sureda, Skoda Motorsport Team Manager said: "I'm very happy that we have the chance to bring Colin back to the WRC on this event because we know that he was keen to return to the championship. He has a lot of experience on this rally which we will find very useful for our future development. I'm sure that the fans will be as excited about Colin's appearance as we are."
Since taking a temporary retirement from the WRC at the end of 2003, McRae has contested four Rally Raids, finishing 20th on his Paris-Dakar debut last year before winning the Baja Portalegre in Portugal. He also contested the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hour race, where he finished third in the GT Class.
Nicky Grist, who first contested Rally GB in 1984 and has won it twice since (1993 with Juha Kankkunen [Toyota] and 1997 with Colin McRae [Subaru]) is equally enthusiastic about contesting his home World Championship event. "I am really looking forward to Wales Rally GB. We are determined to give Skoda the best result we can and we are taking the job seriously. But on the other hand I am sure the event will be a lot of fun for us. After 16 years of traveling the world from event to event the one big difference with Wales Rally GB will be seeing friends, family and the people who have supported me and Colin over many years -- that will give me an extra buzz. With the news of our entry only a few hours old I am already heartened by the number of people who tell me they are coming out to watch."
McRae became Britain's first-ever World Rally Champion when he won the title in 1995. His career includes 25 WRC event wins (a total beaten only by Spain's Carlos Sainz with 26) and three outright wins on Rally GB (1994, 1995 and 1997). Having contested 143 WRC events to date he will be the most experienced driver in the entry when he starts the Cardiff-based rally next month.