McRae resorts to risk strategy

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



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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment