Name: Alister McRae
Motorsport class: International Rally
Current Race Car: 2012 factory driver for Proton. Just starting build of MKII Escort
Website : www.alistermcrae.com
You started out in motocross and motorcycle trials. What made you switch from motorbikes to cars?
Motocross and Trials allowed me to compete before getting my driving licence. Once I had my licence and after a 2nd knee operation I decided it was time to switch to four wheels.
Your family must have been a major reason for you entering into motorsport, but did any other driver have any influence?
I’d been around rallying from as early as I can remember so it was definitely in the family blood. If any other driver stuck out it would be Ari Vatanen.
What was your first road car?
What was your very first rally car?
Having driven numerous competition cars, which has been the most memorable and why?
There are three that stick out. The Nissan Sunny that I won the British Championship in. The Volkswagen Golf as it was really my regular entry into the WRC and we had 6 WRC Formula 2 wins with the car and the last would be the Hyundai Accent WRC as my first WRC car and first WRC points scoring overall.
What is the ultimate special stage / rally for you?
Finland and NZ are very close to being the best but if you get a lot of snow in Sweden that’s the one. The speed you can carry and the fast flowing roads make it the most exciting and exhilarating rally to drive.
What is your career highlight to date?
Winning Formula 2 on Rally Finland in 98. The UK VW team was small and to beat the Factory Seats and Opel’s with Scandinavian drivers on board made for a hard fight but perfect event.
With a fast paced career driving, what do you like to do to relax? Ride Enduro bikes, jet ski, keeping myself fit and spending plenty of time with the family.
What’s one thing that would surprise most people to know? (are you an aspiring artist / musician etc?)
I’m afraid there are no real surprises. I’m certainly not an aspiring artist. If it has an engine and a bit of speed I’m interested. Part of our business in Australia is teaching people to drive slowly!!
Do you have any plans to visit NZ to compete?
NZ have some of the best roads in the world so once I get my MKII built I might need to make a trip over for Otago or the likes.
Having driven 4WD, rear and front wheel drive, what would you recommend for young drivers entering motorsport?
I would always recommend starting in an under powered small car that teaches you to drive to the absolute maximum and carry as much speed as possible through the corners. In these classes you are normally against the other up and coming drivers so it’s always a good indication of talent. At present that’s got to be front wheel drive.
What advice could you give an up and coming driver looking for sponsorship?
Perseverance, and it’s generally who you know or through introductions that you are successful. You need to offer more than just putting a name on a car.
Having driven in several classic rallies, what are your thoughts on driving a BDA escort?
Having started in front wheel drive and then onto 4wd, the events I’ve competed in the last few years in an Escort have put the biggest smile on my face. They have got to be the most enjoyable cars to drive in.
In your opinion who was the best escort driver of all time and why?
It would be difficult to name one driver as the best.
You and your family now reside in Australia. Other than professional rally driving what other work are you involved in?
I’m a partner in a Training Business providing Driver and Safety training to the resources sector here in Perth, SpeedAware (www.speedaware.com.au), and we have the motorsport side of the business, McRae Motorsport (www.mcraemotorsport.com.au)
I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us Alister. I’m sure having an international driver, like yourself, featuring on this site will be a big help / inspiration to the young and upcoming drivers who follow us.
We’re really looking forward to seeing you back here in NZ in your MkII Escort once its complete! We wish you all the best for 2013. Thanks again for your time.
I would also like to say a big thank you to Danny James for putting in the time and effort in contacting Alister and making this happen.