Mazda snares McRae
MAZDA is bringing out the big guns for this year’s Targa Tasmania. Former World Rally Championship ace Alister McRae will join the team for next month’s race.
Finishing 10th outright last year fired up Mazda for a two-car assault on this year’s event.
McRae will join Rick Bates and the pair will drive matching Mazda3 MPS hot hatches.
Targa Tasmania is Australia’s premier tarmac rally and has always had a strong draw for manufacturers looking to show off new performance products.
McRae, younger brother of the late Colin McRae, is now based in Perth and has been looking for rally drives locally.
‘‘Having competed all over the world in rallying at all levels, it’s great to have a new challenge, and doing it with Mazda will be great fun,’’ McRae says.
‘‘Competing in an endurance event is completely new for me. But having driven in more than 30 tarmac events it will be a case of driving as usual and keeping in mind that it’s not a flat-out sprint.
‘‘My strategy will be to ensure a finish, but I am competitive by nature, so I want to finish as high up the leader board as possible.’’
After his strong performance last year, Bates is confident the bigger team can go better this time around.
‘‘We got a great result last year, but to go one better is the aim,’’ Bates says.
‘‘Having Alister on the team will make for some good, healthy competition and I am sure we’ll egg each other on.’’
Mazda’s racing program will continue to be masterminded by Allan Horsley. He was responsible for the company’s domination of the Bathurst 12-hour production-car race in the early 1990s.
Change of pace: Alister McRae (above) and Rick Bates (below) will drive matching Mazda3 MPS hot hatches.