McRae resorts to risk strategy

RAC RALLY: Scot hits a rock in a hard place but overcomes two punctures to close on Sainz

Rallying

DERICK ALLSOP

reports from Chester

Colin McRae had to revert to type yesterday, casting off the cloak of composure to kick and fight his way back into contention for the World Rally Championship in the manner of some latter-day Braveheart.

The Scot's apparent command of the Network Q RAC Rally became an heroic struggle against the odds after two punctures in the notorious Kielder threatened to sabotage his hopes. He effected emergency, not to say crude, repairs to his Subaru and went on the charge again.

At the half way point, he had reduced a deficit of 1min 14 sec to 39 seconds behind the leader, his team-mate Carlos Sainz, the only man who stands between McRae and the distinction of becoming Britain's first world rally champion.

Misfortune in the Mitsubishi camp conveniently left the Subaru pair at the head of the field. The overnight leader, Tommi Makinen of Finland, was forced to retire after clipping a log on the day's first stage, damaging his suspension and subsequently breaking his transmission. Sweden's Kenneth Eriksson, in the other Mitsubishi, hit the rock which caused McRae's first puncture and slipped to third.

That opening stage revealed McRae's hand. The posturing of the Sunday show stages behind them, the 27-year-old advanced from third place to a lead of 27 seconds over Eriksson, 43 seconds over Sainz. And then they arrived in Kielder. A third of the way in to the world championship's longest stage, the 36.61 miles of Pundershaw, McRae ran over an unaccommodating rock. He said: "By the time we saw the rock it was far too late at the speed we were going, so I hit it and the tyre went soft very quickly."

Sainz also had his problems. He reached the end of the stage with severe overheating. The stage wreaked havoc. Eriksson, too, lost two minutes after damaging the front offside of his car on that fiendish rock. Malcolm Wilson, the 39-year-old Cumbrian, rolled his Ford Escort into a ditch and had to concede it was the end of his rally. Alister McRae rolled his Escort, but was able to continue.

His brother, Colin, resumed with defiant and unrivalled pace. Sainz reported his overheating problem had been cured but was powerless to prevent McRae making up 11 seconds on the next stage, another four on the one after.

At Kershope, however, McRae encountered another test of his resolve. Seven miles from the end of the stage he had a second puncture, and damaged suspension and bodywork. He not only made it to the finish but still managed to take a further two seconds off Sainz's advantage. McRae resorted to brute force and a log to make temporary repairs and then drove the 45 miles to the more orthodox service.

His Subaru duly tended, he revived his magnificent assault on the final two stages, at Grizedale, in the Lake District. McRae closed in by another 18 seconds. McRae said last night: "The problem to the suspension was not as bad as it looked but the punctures were much more trouble. I'm going as quick as I can to try to close up the massive lead Carlos had and I'm happy I've closed some of it.''

Sainz said: "He's been lucky and taking a lot of risks. If he had damaged his suspension on a stage where another stage came straight after, he would have been out of the contest. I don't have any tactics for staying ahead, except driving as quickly as I can.''

NETWORK Q RAC RALLY Leading standings after 14 stages: 1 C Sainz/L Moya (Sp) Subaru 2hr 23min 37sec; 2 C McRae/D Ringer (GB) Subaru 2:24.16; 3 K Eriksson/S Parmander (Swe) Mitsubishi 2:25.36; 4 R Burns/R Reid (GB) Subaru 2:26.44; 5 B Thiry/S Prevot (Bel) Ford 2:26.49; 6 A McRae/C Wood (GB) Ford 2:28.05; 7 G De Mevius/JM Fortin (Bel) Ford 2:34.16; 8 A Navarra/R Casazza (It) Toyota 2:35.05; 9 R Madeira/N Silva (Por) Mitsubishi 2:37.07; 10 G Evans/H Davies (GB) Ford 2:37.24.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee