Hmm, Spain ! (28/03/01 17:09:43)
“I was really looking forward to a good run in Spain. We’d had a positive test beforehand and the car felt reasonably good, but you never know what’s going to happen until you get to the rally, and we weren’t as competitive as we could be. This was the first one of that type this year though, and when you look at being seconds a kilometre off, it’s not a lot but it’s enough to make you off the pace. From the test, there was no indication that this was going to be the case, but it just means we’ve got more work to do with both the tyres and the car. It’s difficult to point a finger at either thing.

“I’m still not really sure what the problem was with the car, I need to call and find out, but a lack of fuel pressure is what ultimately stopped the engine. After we’d retired and the mechanics went to get the car, it started and ran but then did the same thing again. I don’t know for what reason, at the time it may have been a heat thing, but possibly something else.

“The only consolation from a disastrous weekend is that Didier won, but Tommi still got good points and has a good lead. Having him 24 points in front makes for a very difficult situation. All we can do is keep plugging away. Everyone’s trying their best but it’s just unfortunate things are happening to me all the time. All three cars had the same problem, they were just lucky and we were the ones that were affected by another straightforward mechanical problem.

“Looking at the rest of the year, I’m not very confident about it now, unfortunately, and the next three events will be real tell-tale. If this run of bad luck continues, that’s it, we’re out of the window, but three good results and we could be right there again, so it’s not worth getting depressed about at the moment.

“I wasn’t so surprised by the performance of the Citroens either. They’ve had so long to prepare, a bit like Peugeot did in the beginning, and they’ve done the whole French Championship with that car so, by concentrating on tarmac, they’re obviously going to be quick. The FIA needs to sort the rules out properly though to stop things like this happening, as it’s not really fair when manufacturers can, potentially, take points away from the regular contenders who are competing in the full championship. Sure, if they want to do events as a bit of a warm up, fine, but come in and run at the back and keep your times to yourself and keep out of the results.

“I’ve got no comment about Puras really, nothing was proved and the problem is that the FIA don’t have clear rules for recces. The way it is at the moment I could send my dad to do it all for me while I stay at home. If you reverse the notes, as he says he did, then he did nothing illegal. The FIA just needs to sort the ruling out and make it clear what you can and can’t do. Until then, people will obviously take advantage. For me, it’s absolutely not possible to reverse notes. You would spend the two runs you’re allowed correcting them. You just can’t do it.

Anyway, on a lighter note, we’ll have another competition up and running this week, so get your thinking caps on and you could win a pair of my racing gloves! Thanks also for all the messages of support.”

Colin's new helmet... (14/03/01 17:13:03)
Click Here to see Colin's new crash helmet.
So, who won Colin’s rally helmet…? (04/03/01 22:00:45)
Laetitia Miladi from Gap in France !!!

Congratulations Laetitia – one of the faithful ‘green anoraks’ we think… You were first out of the hat with the correct answers, which were:

That Colin’s 100th World Championship rally was Rally Australia in 2000


That the seven other drivers who have contested 100 or more World Championship rallies (up to the end of the 2000 season) were Hannu Mikkola, Markku Alen, Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz, Didier Auriol, Ari Vatanen and Kenneth Eriksson.

We’ll be sending Colin’s crash helmet off to you after the Rally of Portugal – because he needs it!

With Colin’s own competition helmet at stake we had a huge amount of entries, and congratulations go to the hundreds of people who did their research and got the answers right.

Watch out for the next competition in the very near future - we’ve got more of Colin’s personal goodies to give away.

Happy surfin’ !

Tarmac testing (21/02/01 10:39:42)
“Things are still pretty busy at the moment, despite the fact that we appear to have a bit of a break in the calendar.

“Nicky and I were in Spain at the weekend testing for the Catalunya Rally - general set-up work and quite a bit with the tyres, as obviously we’re still learning about the Pirellis and this is much warmer and cleaner tarmac than in Monte Carlo. Spain can be a difficult rally, with the emphasis on tyres and getting the choice right because the surfaces are different every day. Although the first and third days are pretty much the same, second time over the roads are a lot dirtier so this has an affect on the choice. In the second leg the surface is much more abrasive, so we were doing a lot of endurance and performance stuff to find the right one.

“The weather wasn’t bad for what we were trying to achieve, but it’s still very cold in the mornings though so it takes until about 11 o’clock to warm up, and then you never really get the high tarmac temperatures you get on the rally. There’s only really about a two or three hour window in the day to get some reasonable results, but we have to test this early to confirm our decisions to Pirelli because of the production times.

“Looking back on Sweden… yeah, all a bit annoying, especially the first day. When we passed Richard I felt a bit sorry for him. It’s the worst thing to get stuck in a snowbank, especially when you know there’s nothing wrong with the car and you just can’t get out. Then what happened on the very next stage? I didn’t feel quite so sorry for him then!

“Our performance on the second and third day was very encouraging though, but the situation is slightly different then because you’re playing catch up and are prepared to risk a bit more. Generally you will go a lot faster in certain areas, not the whole stage, but even so I was very happy with the pace. I just made the mistake of relying on the snowbanks too much. When you stay off them you’re as quick, if not quicker on occasions. I think it was the novelty of having them after so many years with mixed conditions and I was leaning on them a bit too much. One ends up getting you!

“Generally the gearbox had not been behaving itself the whole rally, not to the point of us losing time, but just niggly. We changed it to try and rectify the problem, then one of the hydraulic pipes came loose, so in the last stage it jammed in sixth, losing us about 50 seconds.

“Overall I’m happy with the car though, it’s always been good and very competitive from day one when it came out of M-Sport. We’ve just been trying to get the reliability sorted since and looking at ways of increasing performance, which we’ve certainly done this year. When you look at it, Carlos has had no real problems, and it was pretty much the same last year. Things always seem to happen on my car – perhaps we should swap before the rally next time! It’s not a driving style thing – it wouldn’t have mattered if you were driving it, it’s the luck of the draw and sometimes things just go wrong. If we can get a good clean run, I’m very confident we will produce the results.

“Someone was asking whether there are any more plans for me to run in a round of the British Championship. Well, there’s nothing happening at the moment, but if the situation arises at the right time I would quite enjoy it, but at the moment there’s simply no time as we’re that busy. It very much depends if I can fit it in with everything else that’s going on.

“I’m still down in Spain at the moment, actually looking for a house. We’re struggling to find something, probably because there are too many options, but it’s fun looking anyway. I’m doing a lot of training as well – cycling in the mornings and house hunting in the afternoons, which is keeping me busy. We’re then off to Verbier at the weekend. Snow conditions are pretty good by all accounts, so I’m looking forward to a few days in the mountains before we head off to Portugal.

“Don’t forget as well that you’ve only got another few days to enter the competition to win my 2000 spec helmet. We’ll announce the winner on the site as usual early in March. Good luck!”

Short strengthens Ford's World Rally squad (26/01/01 17:25:41)
Phil Short, one of world rallying's most experienced managers, is to join the Ford Martini World Rally Team as sporting adviser for this season's FIA World Rally Championship. The 55-year-old, who has a remarkable record of success behind him at the sport's highest level, will work with the team on each of the 13 remaining rallies.

Short will work alongside Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson and co-ordinator John Millington, advising on strategic decisions and tactics. His role will be an on-event post only.

Englishman Short will renew links with Ford's official rally team stretching back to 1977 when he was a co-driver with John Taylor. He has 17 international victories to his name as a co-driver, as well as two British international titles, and co-drove for Wilson on British Championship
rallies in 1982 and 1983.

He started in team management in 1981, working with the team that carried Ari Vatanen to the World drivers' title that year in a Ford Escort. He has been instrumental in winning a further seven drivers' titles and four manufacturers' crowns with drivers of the calibre of Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen and Carlos Sainz, with whom he now joins forces again at Ford. He has amassed 46 world rally victories in management and stepped down as team manager at Mitsubishi at the end of last season.

"I was keen to remain in rallying, which has been my life for so many years, but wanted to be more home based," said Short. "I've spent much time living away from home to follow my career and last year I decided a change was needed. My new role will allow me to continue to be involved at the top level where I believe I have a great deal to offer, while spending more time at home with my family."

Wilson said: "Phil's exceptional record speaks for itself. His expertise and thoroughness in all aspects of team management are well-documented and I'm delighted he's joining Ford's squad.

"Most of the top teams are now entering three cars on world rallies and the managerial requirements are obviously increasing as a result. Phil will provide valuable support in that area and his appointment underlines the commitment Ford is putting into rallying and stresses our determination to win the World Championship in 2001," he added.

Short's first event with the Ford Martini team will be the International Swedish Rally on 9-11 February.

Back to business (04/01/01 10:48:24)
“Well that’s it! Christmas and holidays over and it’s back to business.

“There’s always a bit of a buzz at the beginning of a new season and I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.

“With Monte Carlo just round the corner, we’ve got one final test and that’s about it. We’re off to Gap in France for the last general set-up test next week and then I’ve got a couple of days off before the recce starts on the 15th.

“I think it’s going to be very good having Francois (Delecour) in the team, he’s a very interesting character, isn’t he. He’s obviously very quick on the asphalt events and I’m sure we can learn a bit from his driving style and set-up ideas. We weren’t that far behind him last year, the difference was the Peugeot, but it’s more possible we’ll learn something than not with someone like him in the team. From a Championship point of view, he’ll be able to help us out as well, so I think all-round it should be good for us.

“In the meantime, everything else is pretty quiet, but I’ll be keeping you all up to speed with our testing news, and obviously we’ll have all the stories and pictures from every event, as normal.” last (22/12/00 11:50:32)
“Back in Scotland now and that’s it…some time off!

“The two tests I’ve done recently have gone really well. I had a couple of days in Spain testing for Monte Carlo, and have just got back from two days in Sweden. Unfortunately we had what is now the fairly normal problem of finding no snow in Torsby, and had to fly further north to Ostersund and pull something together at the last minute.

“The new engine feels very good. As I always say, you’re not going to make massive steps forward, but it does feel good and there’s an improvement in the bottom and top end power. It could be quite promising.

“The Pirelli’s have also been working well. It’s quite a different feel and I’ve had to learn the tyres again and tune the car accordingly. Again though, Pirelli have come up with some development stuff for Sweden that worked very well but, with everything, all these things can work in testing but you just never know until the rally starts. All-round though, it looks promising, which is a good start and a confidence boost.

“Now it’s Christmas and I’m looking forward to some days off with the family, just relaxing and doing nothing in particular.

“The support you’ve all given to me over the year has been fantastic and I’ll be doing my best to go out there and win next year. We’ve got a great competition coming up in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled on the site. In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas.

“See you all next year.”

Delecour joins Ford (14/12/00 17:34:12)
Ford has signed Francois Delecour to drive a Ford Focus World Rally Car in next season's FIA World Rally Championship. The Frenchman will team up with Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz to provide the Ford Martini squad with the strongest driver line-up of all the teams battling for the 2001 titles.

Thirty-eight-year-old Delecour has agreed a one-year contract with Ford with an option for an additional season. He will contest a minimum of 10 World Championship rallies as an official Ford-entered driver, including all events during the first half of the season. He will be co-driven by Daniel Grataloup.

Delecour began his World Championship career with Ford in 1991, spending five years with the team. He won three rallies in 1993 in an Escort Cosworth, the first driver to win a World rally in the car, en route to second place in the Championship, and also won the Monte Carlo Rally for Ford in 1994. He helped Peugeot win the Manufacturers' crown in this season's Championship and finished sixth in the Drivers' series.

Martin Whitaker, European Director of Ford Racing, said Delecour's signing emphasised Ford's determination to mount a title winning campaign in 2001. "In Colin, Carlos and Francois we have a powerful pan-European team and one which has unrivalled experience at the top level of rallying.

"We're delighted to welcome Francois back to Ford and look forward to him helping the team mount a strong challenge in both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' Championships in 2001," he added.

Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson knows Delecour well, having driven alongside him for Ford in the early 1990s. "Francois is a supremely talented driver, at home on either asphalt or gravel and he will be a valuable asset to our World Championship programme next year," said Wilson. "I expect him to adapt quickly to the Focus and his experience on the opening round in Monte Carlo, on which he has finished on the podium on five occasions, could help us to lay a solid platform for the year."

"I'm very happy to be rejoining Ford because I've enjoyed some special moments with them during my career and I'm looking forward to testing the Focus for the first time," said Delecour. "Ford has shown this season that they have a very competitive car and I'm sure a combination of the Focus and Colin, Carlos and myself will be a tough team to beat next year.

"Having Malcolm as my boss will not be a new experience for me. I drove a Ford Escort for his private team in 1995 on the Rally of Wales. The professionalism of what was then a small team has been maintained in the impressive facilities I've seen at Ford's base at Dovenby Hall," he added.

All ski'd out! (11/12/00 17:31:22)
Colin and Alister, along with 522 other marathon skiers, set the slopes alight in the Swiss resort of Verbier at the weekend when they participated in the 24 hour charity ski race in aid of La Fondation Suisse d'Aide aux Victimes des Mines Antipersonnel, a Swiss foundation raising money for the casualties of landmines.

A staggering 33,646 kilometres (only 7,000 kilometres less than a trip round Europe!) was covered by the 524 skiers and, although the pot is still being counted, the organisers can confirm that the target of 100,000.- Swiss Francs has more than been exceeded.

“It was good fun and from my point of view a really enjoyable way of raising money for a worthwhile charity,” commented Colin. “I’m not sure how much we did, but the winning team covered just over 400 kilometres. Alister and I had a major handicap though ... we had to ski twice as much to compensate for our team-mates who were absolutely rubbish!!”

Thanks go to the Scott Sports Group for sponsoring the McRae team.

Colin is now off to Gap in France with the Ford Martini World Rally Team, testing for the 2001 season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo in January.

FIA signs off 2001 calendar (08/12/00 18:32:07)
The 2001 FIA World Rally Championship calendar has been signed off by the FIA today (8 December), with two notable changes to previous editions.

Cyprus and Greece swap dates, and the Kenyan round has been postponed by a week to avoid a conflict with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Also, after much recent discussion, Britain’s round of the Championship retains its status as the final event in the series.

The confirmed 2001 calendar is:

18-21 January – Rallye Monte Carlo
8-11 February – The International Swedish Rally
8-11 March – Rallye de Portugal
22-25 March – Rallye Catalunya
3-6 May – Rally Argentina
31 May-3 June – Cyprus Rally
14-17 June – Acropolis Rally
19-22 July – Safari Rally
23-26 August – Rally Finland
20-23 September – Rally New Zealand
4-7 October – Rallye Sanremo
18-21 October – Tour de Corse
1-4 November – Rally Australia
22-25 November – Rally of Great Britain

Colin's ski for charity (05/12/00 12:11:21)
Last week it was testing in Spain, this week it’s France, and in between it was down to Madrid for the annual Rally Sprint at the weekend! Pitting himself against such drivers as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Toni Gardemeister, Colin overhauled Sainz in the grand final to take victory in the Ford Focus. “It’s good to see I can still win something!” joked Colin.

And, after another two-day test session this week in preparation for January’s Rallye Monte Carlo, Colin is taking time out from his hectic schedule to support a 24-hour charity ski race in Verbier, in the Swiss alps, this weekend.

With support from personal sponsor Scott USA, Colin and Alister will be part of one of the 100, four-person relay teams skiing the alpine resort of Verbier for 5.- Swiss Francs a kilometre (approx. UK £2.00) in aid of La Fondation Suisse d'Aide aux Victimes des Mines Antipersonnel, a Swiss foundation raising money for the casualties of landmines.

The race starts at noon on Saturday 9 December and, with the maximum possible distance for each four-person team likely to be 300 kilometres - nearly the equivalent of the competitive kilometres in a World Championship rally, but on skis - the total distance could be no less than a staggering 30,000 kilometres by 100 teams. The race will continue through the night, the slopes in the famous Swiss resort coming alive with thousands of lights to guide the energetic skiers, who have pledged to raise a minimum 120,000.- Swiss Francs (approx. UK £40,000) for the charity.

“Living in fear of your life is a very real state for thousands of people around the world, and in this day and age it shouldn’t be,” comments Colin. “I’m really pleased to have been asked to be part of something that will hopefully go some way to help victims around the world and, as importantly, safely destroy the mines that threaten everyday lives.”

The event, which has been organised by professional skier and holder of two world cliff- jumping records Dominique Perret, has drawn support from a host of world-class international sportsmen and women, including Round the World yacht racer Laurent Bourgnon, Olympic skier Edgar Grospiron, Olympic Triathlon Champion Magalie Messmer and the famous balloonist Bertrand Piccard, to name but a few.

La Fondation Suisse d'Aide aux Victimes des Mines Antipersonnel is not only focused on the safe destruction and disposal of landmines in countries around the world, but also the funding of vital medical equipment and everyday basics that can make all the difference. Whether it be a new ambulance, or a donkey for children to ride to their nearest school, the proceeds from the 24-hour ski race will, hopefully, bring some relief to the victims of such atrocities.

Onwards and upwards... (01/12/00 19:16:48)
"Looking back on the Rally of Great Britain, it was a very disappointing end to the season. We were determined to end the year on a high note and felt comfortable with the lead we had, and I think it would have been difficult for anyone to catch us. But, that’s the way it goes sometimes and we’re looking ahead now to a new season, with a new car and hopefully some renewed luck.

“I’ve seen all the messages up on the site and sorry, but after we retired, it was always going to be Richard’s rally. I don’t begrudge him the victory, he did well to recover from a disastrous first day, but obviously it’s great that I’m still Britain’s first and only World Champion. He’ll just have to try a bit harder next time!

“Cardiff, as the new base for the rally, worked pretty well and the rally was much more compact than normal. It seems to be quite a lively town as well, with lots of things to do, loads of hotels and all the right stuff to support the rally. The start venue was very good, and the rally show seemed to work well, so I’ll be quite happy to go back there next year.

“A lot of people also seem to have been commenting on the message board that I should have stayed with Subaru. I think it’s always easy to say ‘if’, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I really believe M-Sport and the Focus are turning into a very good combination, and hopefully we’ll benefit from all the hard work everyone’s put in. New projects always take a while to mature.

“Marcus is definitely a worthy Championship winner, he’s driven very well. Nobody ever thought he’d hold it all together right to the end, mainly because of his lack of experience on some events, but he deserves the title. The 206 is going to be very difficult to beat next year, Marcus’ confidence will be high and he’s got lots of experience this year. It’s going to be even tougher for all of us next year.

“From a team point of view, I think Acropolis and Cyprus have been the main achievements for us this year. Greece, from my side, because it was the toughest rally of the year and the whole team got it spot on, apart from Carlos that is….!

“After the Rally GB, I was back in Scotland for a day and then flew the helicopter down to Spain with Alister to go testing. We had a pretty good run, just stopping once overnight in the Channel Islands and then carrying on down to Andorra the next day. Now it’s down in Spain that’s pretty much where it’ll be based; it’s a good central location from home for a lot of what I need to do.

“The testing over the last couple of days has really just been a first run and evaluation of the Pirelli tyres with the 2000 car. The road we were testing on was wet and slippy, and those are some of the worst conditions you could hope to drive in, so it’s difficult to tell how the tyres were performing. Both Carlos and I have run on Pirellis before, but it really only takes a couple of days testing to get used to them again. They don’t seem to have made a huge step forward, but that’s the same with everything these days because things are already on their limits. Certainly there’s nothing negative to say about them though.

“With the 2001 car, the engine is the biggest development issue. Cosworth has made big improvements and we’ll also be running the semi-auto box full-on from Monte Carlo. There are other bits and pieces too, but hopefully these two things will give us a bit of an edge.

“It’s interesting to watch the last few driver slots being filled and I really don’t think Delecour’s absence from Peugeot will make a big difference to them next year. They’ve got a pretty strong team with Marcus and Didier (Auriol), so I think they’re pretty well sorted and, as I’ve already said, the 206 seems pretty special. With Didier, if he’s got his head screwed on and he’s happy with the feeling, with a car like that….. well, we’ll see. Hopefully our new engine and gearbox will make a difference though; we need good consistent results and some victories to hang it all together. If it doesn’t….we’re up the creek, to put it mildly!

“Peugeot’s signing of Harri (Rovanpera) was a bit of a surprise, but a cracking deal for him. If he doesn’t make it next year it would be safe to write him off because he’s got himself in a very valuable position I would say. Bruno Thiry’s back as well but, with no disrespect to anyone, the car’s not really been on the pace. We’ll see though, you just never know what’s going on with the competition until the flag drops.

“For those who’ve asked, I’m not doing the Race of Champions this year. Instead I’m off to the Madrid Rally Sprint this weekend (3 December) with Carlos and some of the SEAT guys, I think. It’s pretty much the same sort of format as the Race of Champions, although we drive our own cars.

“That’s about it for the moment. Sorry it’s taken a while to catch up, but it’s all been a bit hectic since leaving Cardiff and doesn’t look set to get much better before Christmas. We’ve got a full-on testing programme all month, and I’m also taking part in a charity ski race, which I’ll tell you about later in the week. Keep the registrations for the Fan Club coming in, we’ve had a good response so far and will have some cracking, really exclusive things for you all.”

Catch up with Colin in Cardiff (20/11/00 17:08:52)
For all you rally fans braving the elements and going to Wales to watch Colin wipe the floor
with the opposition on the Rally of Great Britain, there’s an opportunity to catch up with him
at the Rally Show around Cardiff City Hall on Thursday 23 November.

Colin will be officially launching his new range of Authentic Merchandise and signing autographs
on the Performance Clothing stand at 15:15 hrs.

You can also pick up a registration form for the official Fan Club at the same time!

Don’t forget, it’ll be busy… get there early to avoid the rush.

Have a great rally, and be safe

Who won the SCOTT bike? (16/11/00 09:55:05)
Neil Huggett from England!

Congratulations Neil! You’ve won a state-of-the-art 2001 Adventure Series SCOTT USA bike!

We received hundreds of entries, nearly all of them with correct answers, and yes, of course, Colin won his home round of the Championship to become Britain’s first - and only - World Rally Champion in 1995.

Neil, we’ll be in touch and, for the following 12 runners-up, SCOTT Team race tops - as worn by the 2000 professional race team - will be winging their way to you in due course.

Congratulations to everyone who answered the question correctly and good luck in the draw next time.

Don’t forget, you can now buy Colin’s full range of merchandise through the site, as well as register for the only official Fan Club in the next couple of days. There’ll be lots of VERY exclusive competitions for the members, so check it all out on the site, and for all you McRae fans….. keep surfin’!

The runners-up are:

Ross Raithby from England

Louise Skeen from England

Derek Milner from England

Ben McArthur, from Western Australia

Johan Svensson from Sweden

Pat O’Sullivan from Ireland

Jose Ferreira Costa from Portugal

Mark Selbie from Scotland

Rommel Bellamy all the way from Barbados!

Paul Davies from Wales

Sarah Ansley from England …… and the Prodrive Subaru team…! Bet that was a party to remember…

David Gibson from Scotland

Makinen excluded from Rally Australia (13/11/00 17:29:11)

Following post-event scrutineering the turbocharger of Car No.1 (Tommi
Makinen/Risto Mannisenmaki) was sealed for inspection by the FIA.

The FIA technical delegate has identified a difference between this
turbocharger and the homologated version.

Recently Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart's turbocharger supplier modified the
casting. The complete water cooling system from the production car
turbocharger has been removed in this new casting. Within the rally version
of the turbocharger the water cooling system was originally blanked off as
permitted under the regulations. The turbocharger has not, in any way, been
modified to achieve a performance advantage and a genuine mistake has been
made without the knowledge of the team.

Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart receives the complete engine package including
all ancillaries shortly before each World Championship event. The team does
not have any direct involvement in the preparation of the engine or its

Following a hearing the stewards of the meeting imposed the penalty of
exclusion for this offence. Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart accept the
steward's decision and will not be making an appeal in the interest of the
spirit of competition within the World Rally Championship.

Ford makes no appeal after Sainz exclusion (11/11/00 00:32:22)
The Ford Martini World Rally Team has decided not to appeal against the exclusion of Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya following the end of leg one of the Rally Australia. A late night meeting of the rally's stewards disqualified Sainz and Moya after deciding their Ford Focus World Rally Car stopped in a prohibited area between the yellow warning sign and the stop sign at the end of the day's penultimate special stage, the 4.42 km Atkins.

Sainz, employing tactics very similar to other title contenders, was deliberately trying to lose time so as to run further down the order on the second leg and benefit from roads swept clear of loose gravel by earlier competitors.

"As I made clear before the start of the rally, the organisers' decision to abandon last year's practice of allowing the leading drivers to choose their starting position for the following day was always likely to introduce an element of farce," said Sainz. "Unfortunately this proved to be the case and in our own attempts to try to avoid being disadvantaged by this change in procedure, Luis and I made an error of judgement which has resulted in our exclusion.

"I want to stress that what happened was entirely on the initiative of myself and Luis and nothing to do with team instructions or anything of that sort. In fact, as in-car video footage shows, I was having animated discussions with Luis during the stage in an attempt to figure out how best to cope with the situation. I know other drivers used different tactics and in retrospect I should have done something different myself.

"When we carry out the practice, there are no markings to indicate where the yellow boards will be sited and on this occasion I missed it. This is a terrible disappointment for the whole team and you can imagine how I feel because I had a good opportunity of winning the Drivers' Championship as well as contributing to the team winning the Manufacturers' title.

"Of course, I feel a bit embarrassed as well as disappointed. It's a hard lesson but I can assure you that I'll be more determined than ever to help Ford to success on the final round of the Championship in Britain," added Sainz.

Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson said: "Obviously we're very disappointed and as you can imagine we've had a full and open discussion with Carlos and Luis about what happened. That said, I think we should bear in mind how much pressure drivers and co-drivers are under at this stage in the World Championship when positions are so close. Carlos is an experienced professional driver and I have no doubts he will come back as strong and as determined as ever to help the team to success in the future.”

Breaking news....double misery for Ford (10/11/00 16:28:40)
From The Stewards of the Meeting

"After considering the written report of the marshals at the finish line of SS9, having heard also the further verbal explanation, considering also the evidence of the video recording by the camera in Chopper 1 of the organisers, the Stewards ascertained that Car No. 6 (Sainz) did stop for approximately 10-20 seconds before the flying finish line of SS9 and after the yellow warning sign, ie between the yellow warning sign and the stop sign.

"Following the summons of the Stewards, the entrant's representative and the drivers of Car No. 6 (Sainz/Moya) appeared before the Stewards and have not produced conclusive evidence against.

"The Stewards decide unanimously to exclude Car No. 6 under Article 19.9 of the 2000 FIA World Rally Championship General Prescriptions.

"You are advised of your rights to appeal against this decision under the International Sporting Code and in this case the penalty will be suspended pending the hearing of the appeal."

Ford is not appealing the decision and a statement will be issued in due course.

Win a bike like Colin's... (25/10/00 15:47:07)


You could win the latest specification SCOTT bike
in our pre Rally of Great Britain competition.

Register your entry now - the closing date is 14 November
Colin helps Welsh scoop £32,000! (21/10/00 09:05:49)
Ford Martini driver Colin McRae unwittingly helped game show contestant Tony Welsh scoop £32,000 in front of millions of viewers on British television.

Mr Welsh, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK was competing in the popular Who Wants to be a Millionaire? show and had already secured himself £16,000 when he faced a sporting teaser for the chance to double his money to £32,000.

Presenter Chris Tarrant asked the question: Which sportsman is better known as a rally driver? He then gave four possible answers: Michael Doohan, Colin McRae, Johnny Herbert or Chris Boardman.

The tension mounted as Mr Welsh, who admits to knowing little more than nuts and bolts about motorsport, used a lifeline to reduce the four possible answers to just two – McRae or Boardman. Still unsure, he used his final lifeline to telephone a friend who confidently assured Mr Welsh that McRae was the correct answer.

He took the advice and seconds later was all smiles as Tarrant confirmed the answer and handed him a cheque for £32,000.

Unfortunately for Mr Welsh he did not go on to scoop the million pound jackpot. However, had he been in Italy with the Ford Martini team his nice little earner would have been worth more than 100 million lira!
2001 WRC calendar confirmed (09/10/00 10:25:38)
At the recent FIA World Council Meeting, the calendar for the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship was confirmed.

It was also announced that all rallies will now follow a standard format:

Monday: Reconnaissance
Tuesday: Reconnaissance
Wednesday: Reconnaissance (morning) and Shakedown (afternoon)
Thursday: Administrative checks, scrutineering
Friday: Rally
Saturday: Rally
Sunday: Rally

The 2001 World Rally Championship calendar:

18-21 January – Rallye Monte Carlo
8-11 February – The International Swedish Rally
8-11 March – Rallye de Portugal
22-25 March – Rallye Catalunya
3-6 May – Rally Argentina
31 May-3 June – Acropolis Rally
14-17 June – Cyprus Rally
12-15 July – Safari Rally
23-26 August – Rally Finland
20-23 September – Rally New Zealand
4-7 October – Rallye Sanremo
18-21 October – Tour de Corse
1-4 November – Rally Australia
22-25 November – Rally of Great Britain

On the road to recovery (05/10/00 19:24:56)
“First of all I want to say thank you for all the messages. I can’t believe how many people have passed on their best wishes, nor how quickly they all started to go up on the site.

“My goal is very much to go to Sanremo. The Championship’s still wide open and even with a bad event for us, as far as the result went it was good it went in favour of the two Peugeots because that certainly leaves things wide open for the drivers. The Manufacturers’ Championship is becoming a wee bit tighter and we’ll have to see what we can do in Sanremo. Although it’s a bit of a question mark at the moment, I want to be there, but certainly for Australia and Great Britain I’ll be back on full form.

“I can’t really remember that much about the accident. I saw the in-car footage a couple of nights ago to try and work out what happened, but unfortunately the sound between Nicky’s mike and the video wasn’t working and we really need that to tell what happened. Sure, you can see, but without sound and the pace notes it’s difficult to see where the mistake was.

“I’ve seen the photographs in some of the magazines and stuff, but it doesn’t help to bring back any memory of what happened. It’s fine when I look at them and I’m going to see the car tomorrow (Friday 6 October) to see how it stood up and where I was jammed in it, just so I know. I don’t want to block it all from my mind, I want to learn as much as everyone else can about the car, how it worked, how I got out, why I was jammed in it for an hour, and generally make sure everyone can learn quite a bit from the whole incident.

“It’s very clear that had this happened 10 years ago, it would have been a completely different story. The Focus is one of the strongest cars in the Championship. Jacques Berger (FIA Technical Delegate) was very impressed with the way it stood up, especially as all the impact was on the relatively weakest part of the car around the windscreen line and roof. Considering that was the case, it all stood up very well.

“I definitely agree we should move towards having a permanent medical crew for the series. One of the things that was quite clear was the fact that it took a long time to get me out of the car and the rescue services that were there were not fully up to speed. It’s important to have a fully equipped helicopter with the best paramedic and emergency people on board who can be there within seconds. Just to have people you know, people that speak the same language would make a difference.

“Basically my cheekbone is broken in two places and the eye seat is also broken. Normally this is a straight-forward operation; they make a small incision in the cheek, put a hook into the bone, move it back into place and you’re pretty much just left with a wee spot on your cheek. But, because I want to compete in Sanremo, the surgeon is going to put a plate in and screw it all in place to make sure it doesn’t move, because it doesn’t matter how careful you are, it’s bound to get another jolt. It’s not so bad that it needs a plate, it’s just a double security thing.

“The surgeon understands my position, that I want to go to Sanremo, and providing there’s no surprises that haven’t shown up on the x-rays, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be there. It’s a straight-forward operation with no side effects at all and I could be out the same day, although Alison’s happier that I stay in overnight.

“Bernie, the guy who helps me out with my training, has rigged up a high altitude chamber in the lounge which I’m relaxing and sleeping in. A lot of top athletes use them and it aids recovery by up to 20 or 30 percent. It’s obviously more for the aches, pains and bruising rather than the cheekbone, so I’m just taking it easy at the moment and doing as much as possible to enhance the recovery.

“That’s about it for the moment although by the way Mike, I don’t think I have a niece in Dunstable called Vicky! Not that I know about anyway.”

Who won Colin’s overalls..? (04/10/00 12:12:56)
Jim Maddern from Victoria, down under in Australia!

Congratulations Jim, not only did you get all three answers correct but you were also only 14.2 seconds adrift in your prediction of the total time for the winning crew in the Tour de Corse – nice one mate!

The results couldn’t have been closer and commiserations in particular go to Marcus Mellgren from Sweden who was off the winner’s podium by just three tenths of a second!

The three answers to the questions were that Colin’s first World Championship rally victory was in the 1993 Rally New Zealand, his favourite event is the International Swedish Rally (as mentioned on the site, for those who were undecided) and the newest addition to the series is the Rally of Cyprus. Gilles Panizzi, winner of the 2000 Tour de Corse, set a total time of 4hr 02mins 14.2seconds.

Jim, Colin’s overalls will be on their way to you in due course and signed copies of Colin McRae Rally 2 will also be winging their way to:

Marcus Mellgren from Skärblacka, Sweden

Colin Christie from Aberdeenshire in Scotland

Baltus Christel from Verviers, Belgium

Cos Gauci from Essex, England

Ferdy Wouters from Walferdange, Luxembourg

Meg Hirons from Warwick in England

Tracy and David Horbury from Hampshire, England

Gus Kearney from Co. Dublin, Ireland

Matthew Todd from NSW, Australia

Shai Albinetzer from Israel

Steve Matthews from Harrogate in England

The response to the competition was fantastic and we’re already on the case for another one that will go up before Colin’s home round of the Championship, the Rally of Great Britain.

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck next time to all you McRae fans. Keep surfin’!

Operation scheduled for Monday (03/10/00 13:22:10)
Ford Martini World Rally team driver Colin McRae is recovering well following last weekend's serious accident on the Tour of Corsica rally in which the Scot suffered a double fracture of his left cheekbone and a bruised lung.

After being flown to Scotland by air ambulance on Sunday afternoon, 32-year-old McRae was examined by a specialist in Edinburgh. It was decided to allow the swelling to his face to reduce before a minor operation to re-set the fractured bones below his left eye. The operation is scheduled to take place in Edinburgh on Monday (9 October).

Although still in considerable discomfort following the 120 kph accident during the second leg of the rally, 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Colin has his sights firmly set on returning to action for the next round of the series, Italy's Sanremo Rally, which starts on Friday 20 October.

However, it will be some time before a decision can be made as to his fitness and the team will be guided by expert medical advice.

Colin and co-driver Nicky Grist were due to test their Ford Focus World Rally Car in Wales on Monday (9 October) in preparation for November's final round of the Championship, the Rally Great Britain. That test has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled once Colin is fully fit.

Following the accident, Ford Martini team management held discussions with the Federation International Automobile (FIA), the sport's governing body, and will work alongside the FIA in providing their observations and recommendations following the incident and on safety procedures in the sport in general.

Tour of Corsica (30/09/00 16:10:55)
After stage 10, Feo – Col San Quilico

Ford Martini team drivers Colin McRae and Nicky Grist were involved in a serious accident this afternoon during the second leg of the Tour of Corsica, 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship. 4.3km after the start of stage 10 their Ford Focus World Rally Car left the road after a series of sixth gear bends and went down an embankment, hitting a tree.

Grist was quickly out of the car but 32-year-old McRae was initially trapped inside. Emergency vehicles and the Ford Martini team doctor were quickly on the scene and McRae was released.

He was driven by ambulance back to the start of the stage and was then flown by helicopter to Bastia Hospital, accompanied by the team doctor, for examination. His injuries are not believed to be serious. Thirty-eight-year-old Grist was shocked but unhurt.

Rally officials cancelled the stage after the accident and the rally continued following a delay.

Ford rally team to use Pirelli tyres from 2001 (01/09/00 12:44:02)
Ford has signed an agreement with tyre manufacturer Pirelli to use the Italian company's rubber on the official Ford Focus World Rally Cars competing in next year's FIA World Rally Championship. The agreement lasts for three years and means that Ford will use Pirelli tyres at least until the end of 2003.

The agreement brings to an end Ford's long-term rallying relationship with French tyre supplier Michelin.

Ford's contracted drivers for 2001, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, both have wide experience of Pirelli tyres. Indeed, when Pirelli last won the world drivers' championship in 1995, it was McRae who took the honours. On the previous two occasions, in 1990 and 1992, it was Sainz.

The agreement renews a link between the two companies forged during the 1980s when Ford used Pirelli tyres in World Championship rallying. Indeed (ironically), one of the team's drivers during that period was current Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson.

"We're very much looking forward to linking up with Pirelli," said Wilson. "It has a highly successful career in motorsport, particularly in world championship rallying, and both Colin and Carlos have won world titles in partnership with the company. Both our drivers have considerable experience of working with Pirelli's engineers and it's a relationship that we see working very well.

"Testing on Pirelli tyres will begin immediately after the Rally of Great Britain, the final round of this year's championship, to ensure the drivers and the team as a whole have the maximum time to adapt before the start of the 2001 championship in Monte Carlo in January.

"During the past eight seasons the Ford team has enjoyed considerable success with Michelin, whose professionalism and hard work have been exemplary. We would like to place on record our thanks to everyone involved in the rally programme and we know we can rely on the company's full support during the remaining five rallies in our quest for world championship success this season," added Wilson.

Latest 2001 calendar released (01/09/00 09:57:00)
This calendar remains provisional until final approval by the World Council in October.

Rallye Monte Carlo – 19-21 January
International Swedish Rally – 9-11 February
Rallye de Portugal – 9-11 March
Rallye Catalunya – 23-25 March
Rally Argentina – 4-6 May
Acropolis Rally – 1-3 June
Rally of Cyprus* – 15-17 June
Safari Rally – 13-15 July
Rally Finland – 10-12 August
Rally New Zealand – 21-23 September
San Remo Rallye – 5-7 October
Tour de Corse – 19-21 October
Rally Australia – 2-4 November
Rally of Great Britain – 23-25 November

* Subject to 2000 observers report

Fun in the Escort - The McRae Stages (07/08/00 10:39:22)
Between his commitments in the FIA World Rally Championship Colin, with wife Alison, took time out to run the course car on The McRae Stages over the weekend, an event the family has been associated with for six years. Run by Coltness Car Club in Lanarkshire, the event covered six stages and is a round of the 2000 Scottish Rally Championship.

“It was a load of fun to do an event and not worry about anything,” said Colin. “Alison and I just went out there and enjoyed ourselves - no pressure, just lots of fun and I really hope the spectators enjoyed seeing the Escort in action.

“The difference between this and a modern day rally car are like night and day. The Escort’s very basic, pretty hard to drive and hang on to, especially when you’re so used to power steering. That was the reason we spun on the first stage - I just wasn’t holding on tight enough. It is obviously a lot slower, but then it is a 25-year-old car and what would now be called basic technology. It sounds tremendous though! As a one-off drive these cars are much more fun, but being used to the latest spec it could be quite frustrating to be out in it more often.

“It’s a great rally and I’m really proud to be associated with it. The guys at Coltness Car Club put on a very professional show and it genuinely is a well run event. The stages are very good, starting off with a nice long 20 miler, but generally they are all nice, medium-fast smooth stages. This year is was fully subscribed with 127 entries, which is great. Most of the events in the series have about 90 and we had to get dispensation to run the extra cars, so I think this just proves how popular and good the event really is.

“Brian Lyall won it in a Subaru. He’s a good steady driver and if everything goes well, you’d normally expect him to win. The old man didn’t end up starting, which was a shame. He was trying to do a deal to run a Subaru as well, but it all fell through so he was going to do it in the Porsche. Unfortunately he then had a problem with the suspension on the press day on Thursday and couldn’t get a replacement part in time. And Alister just couldn’t get hold of a car. He was trying to get a Hyundai, but understandably the team is flat-out with World Championship commitments and there wasn’t one available. As for Nicky……! He’s going to take a bit of a ribbing for sure having rolled the car in testing! His mechanics were up half the night repairing it to get him to the start and then he had an electrical problem on the first stage, which I have to say was a real shame after everyone’s hard work. I don’t think he went OTL, but they lost so much time getting the car going that he was obviously way down the order. I’ve no doubt he had a lot of fun though, but I don’t expect he’ll be giving up his day job!”
Colin signs for Ford (05/08/00 00:33:56)
British rally ace and former World Champion Colin McRae has signed a new two-year contract with the Ford World Rally team.

Martin Whitaker, European Director of Ford Racing commented: “We are delighted that Colin has renewed his commitment to Ford. The announcement sends a clear message to our competitors that we are determined to take Ford back to the top of global motor sport. The achievements of Colin and the team at M-Sport have given us a great platform from which to attack the championship in forthcoming years. Our commitment in terms of technical and human resources is unquestioned. This news will be welcomed throughout the company and gives us the best possible driver line-up for the future.”

Colin McRae, who celebrates his 32nd birthday today, has led the team’s development of the Ford Focus, the world’s top-selling car, as a World Rally Car. He currently lies third in the World Rally Championship for drivers ahead of his Ford team-mate and fellow former World Champion Carlos Sainz. Together with their co-drivers Nicky Grist and Luis Moya, they have taken Ford to second place in the World Championship for Manufacturers, after two victories this year in Spain and Greece, with six rounds of the 2000 championship remaining.

“I am totally committed to my goal of winning the championship again,” enthused Colin. “I feel that with the current level of confidence throughout the Ford team we have a real chance of achieving this. Now I have signed a contract with Ford for two more years the whole team can be settled in the knowledge that we will be focused on winning. We have already achieved a huge amount together with the new Focus and I am absolutely convinced that, with the engineering resources behind us, there is much more to come."

The announcement sends a strong message of Ford's determination to succeed in the FIA World Rally Championship. The series represents Ford's premier global motor sport activity and company President and CEO, Jacques Nasser, underlined this commitment to success at the top of the sport, during a visit to the M-Sport team's new headquarters at Dovenby Hall in Cumbria last month.

The announcement is further strengthened by a strategic move to include the World Rally Championship team as part of Ford's global mainstream Product Development Division, under Richard Parry-Jones, Group Vice President, Product Development and Quality, Ford Automotive Operations.

Ford's World Rally Championship team, M-Sport, is now based at new 'Formula One' style premises. The impressive, purpose-built facilities serve the needs of the world championship Ford team and were created by Team Director Malcolm Wilson.

"With confirmation that Colin has signed with us for two more years, we see the beginning of a whole new era in Ford motor sport history,” commented Wilson. “The Focus World Rally Car is already an enormous success in the hands of Colin and Carlos Sainz. If you combine their input with the world-class team facilities which we now have, the stability we can provide and the significant benefits we will gain from integration with Product Development – then I whole-heartedly believe Ford Racing will become the force to be reckoned with in rallying."

McRae, whose new contract begins in 2001, will join team mate Carlos Sainz in Ford Focus World Rally Cars for the next round of the World Rally Championship, the Rally Finland, 17-20 August.

From Lanark in Scotland, Colin McRae is among Britain's most successful sportsmen and one of the leading rally drivers of his generation. Under the watchful eye of his father Jimmy, himself a hugely successful rally driver and five-times British Champion, Colin developed his skills at an early age and started his rallying career in 1986. Less than one year later he made his FIA World Rally Championship debut and achieved his first international victory at the age of 22. His first World Championship title came in 1995 and Colin remains focused on repeating that success in the remainder of the 2000 season.

Provisional 2001 calendar announced (28/07/00 10:39:13)
The first provisional calendar for the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship has been released and some significant date changes indicate the series is chasing better weather around the world.

Rallye Monte Carlo – 19-20 January
International Swedish Rally – 9-11 February
Rally of Cyprus – 23-25 February
Rallye de Portugal – 9-11 March
Rallye Catalunya – 23-25 March
Rally Argentina – 4-6 May
Acropolis Rally – 1-3 June
Safari Rally – 13-15 July
Rally Finland – 24-26 August
Rally New Zealand – 21-23 September
San Remo Rallye – 5-7 October
Tour de Corse – 19-21 October
Rally Australia – 2-4 November
Rally of Great Britain – 23-25 November

“There are three main date changes – Cyprus, the Safari and New Zealand,” comments Colin. “I’m not sure what the weather will be like in Cyprus in February, cooler than in September for sure, but of course it means the organisers only have six months to prepare for their second World Championship rally. I can’t see this being a problem though and I’m sure they’ll be fully committed, and anyway, everything will be fresh in their minds for next year so maybe it’s a good thing.

“I’m not sure moving the date of the Safari is going to make a big difference, but we’ll wait and see. It can be wet or dry there, and probably the same in July! Conditions in New Zealand could be very nice, slightly warmer, but as soon as it gets too warm the roads dry out very quickly creating what feels like a concrete base with gravel on the top. Those roads are some of the best in the world, especially if they are a bit damp, but even so, it’ll be good to go there and have better weather.

“Once again it’s a real shame my home event hasn’t moved dates because it has the worst weather in the whole Championship. The best thing would be to move it to spring, or just after the summer, and it would be a brilliant event. All the other rallies are generally ok; I mean, you can get bad weather at any time of the year.

“From a personal point of view, events that are close together are good. If we could have two or three, pretty much back-to-back, and then have a decent break, that would be great.”