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Glenn Macneall is easily Australia's most experienced co-driver, having sat beside 15 different drivers on his way to an incredible 100 World Rally Championship starts. With a best result of third at Rally Japan in 2005, sitting alongside Subaru factory driver Chris Atkinson, 45-year old Macneall is still embarking on new challenges. Having just concluded a stint with up-and-coming Japanese driver, Hiroki Arai, Macneall is about to begin a campaign in the WRC with good friend Gaurav Gill as MRF Tyres make the move into the WRC. In between test sessions in a Ford Fiesta R5 at M-Sport in the UK, Macneall chatted to RallySport Magazine about celebrating his 100th WRC event, what the future holds, and his thoughts on rallying's changes over his career.
Glenn Macneall

Glenn Macneall has finished his contract with Hiroki Arai and joins Gaurav Gill for the rest of this year.

RSM: Firstly, congratulations on reaching the ton - 100 WRC events. Cricketers celebrate by raising the bat, but how did you celebrate in Portugal? Glenn Macneall: To be honest I kept it pretty quiet. Only a few close friends and family knew. I personally haven’t kept a very good record of the number of rallies I have done and it was only earlier this year when I was asked to check the list on the ewrc-results.com website that I realised exactly how many I had competed in. After Rally Portugal we had a small party in Finland with some of the guys from the team, and they surprised me with a cake to celebrate my 100th WRC event.
Arai and Macneall

Macneall and Arai finished fifth in WRC2 at the Rally of Portugal.

RSM: How have you had to adjust from driver to driver throughout your 100 WRC events? GM: To be honest I have never had much issue adjusting from driver to driver, even when things are different they are pretty much the same – by that I mean everyone is looking to achieve the same thing, so the difference between drivers is quite subtle. RSM: Regarding the cars you’ve ridden in and the different events you’ve done, what changes have you most liked and disliked in your years of the WRC? GM: The biggest change in the performance of the cars over the years for me has been in terms of suspension development. Today the cars have amazing traction and ride the road so well, which ultimately means they are able to carry significantly more speed in places. As a result the safety side of our sport has had to go through some pretty major developments. Things like the HANS device, the development of winged seats and improvements in roll cage design, etc., have contributed to safety in a very positive manner. Technology, like Australia’s own RallySafe, has also been a very positive change for our sport. In terms of dislikes, I understand the need for central servicing and service parks, but I think at some events they detract from the event and have certainly removed some of the adventure element of our sport.
The glory days for the ARC, with team-mates Craig Vincent, Possum Bourne and Greg Graham.

The glory days for the ARC, with team-mates Craig Vincent, Possum Bourne and Greg Graham.

RSM: From Sardinia onwards, you’re back with Indian Gaurav Gill. How did that change come about? GM: It wasn’t a change I was expecting to happen and came a bit out of the blue. The timing was very fortunate. I am really happy to be back with Gaurav. We respect each other and work well together.
Co-driving for Dean Herridge in the factory Subaru in a Tasmanian ARC round in 2007.

Co-driving for Dean Herridge in the factory Subaru in a Tasmanian ARC round in the mid 2000s.

RSM: You’ve spent a lot of time in the car with Gaurav and have had plenty of success with him. Do you believe he can make an impact in WRC2 right from the outset in 2019? GM: When I first started competing with him seven or eight years ago he was pretty raw, inexperienced, but very quick, and he has now matured into an extremely fast and talented driver. He has shown his speed against quality opposition throughout his career, doing that all the while with very limited testing kilometres. This year we aren’t registered for WRC2 so the target is to gain experience of each of the four events that we will contest and collect data for the development of the tyres. I think this is the perfect platform to launch into WRC2 next year.
Chris Atkinson / Glenn Macneall, 2006 Monte Carlo Rally. Photo: Holmes

Chris Atkinson / Glenn Macneall, 2006 Monte Carlo Rally. Photo: Holmes

RSM: What are the key traits that will make him competitive against seasoned WRC opposition? GM: He is a fantastic competitor, always hungry to learn more and develop his driving to become the best he can be. He never stops learning and I think this hunger to be better and always develop will serve him well as he embarks on new events in the WRC. His natural car control is also a real asset. The experience gained in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship against quality opposition will also hold him in good stead.
Rally Queensland 2014 with Gaurav Gill in the Skoda Fabia. Photo: Geoff Ridder

Rally Queensland 2014 with Gaurav Gill in the Skoda Fabia. Photo: Geoff Ridder

RSM: Closer to home, what’s your view on the APRC now that Skoda and MRF have left? Is it a championship that has run its race? GM: It is a wonderful championship and over the years has provided a platform for some great drivers and teams, and I believe it can continue to do that for years to come. It would just be nice to see more teams competing. The championship provides a diverse range of events, but unfortunately it is just logistically tough. I hope that in the not too distant future we see one or more of the Asian manufactures, whether it be Proton with their new R5 car, or even Hyundai, come to support it. Each of the European team-mates that competed with Gaurav and I at MRF have commented how they learnt so much doing the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
Macneall believes Gaurav Gill can be successful at WRC level.

Macneall believes Gaurav Gill can be successful at WRC level.

RSM: And what about Australian rallying, is it in a better or worse place than it was 10 years ago? GM: Gee, lots of tough questions! It depends on how you define that. Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to compete in quite a few European national championship events (Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal) and one thing I can say is that the quality and organisation of events in Australia is at a very high level. I also think that Australia has some great driving talent. And the guys and girls at the front of the championship are pushing hard. Obviously it would great to see more competitors and people supporting the championship.

Rally Queensland 2016, and putting the Skoda Fabia through its paces. Photo: APRC

RSM: The list of drivers you have sat beside is astonishing. Have you had a chance to look back upon what you’ve been able to achieve in your career so far, and what’s left to do? GM: I always feel extremely fortunate to have had such a long career in the sport that I love. I have worked with some amazing people. I don’t really have any events that I am desperate to do, although competing in New Zealand is always something pretty special – in my opinion they have the best roads to be found anywhere in the world. The Otago Rally and Whangarei are two of my favourite events. And I would love to actually drive in the Caitlins Rally. That said, there is nothing quite like competing at your home WRC round, so competing in Rally Australia will always be pretty special to me. Probably the only thing left on my 'bucket list' would be to invite all those I have had the privilege to work with to one huge party weekend to celebrate the memories and tell tall stories.
Gill and Macneall have proved to be a successful pairing for Team MRF. Photo: Geoff Ridder

Gill and Macneall have proved to be a successful pairing for Team MRF. Photo: Geoff Ridder

The drivers Glenn Macneall has co-driven for in the World Rally Championship are:

  • Hiroki Arai
  • Guarav Gill
  • Nathan Quinn
  • Chris Atkinson
  • Emma Gilmour
  • Toshi Arai
  • Eyvind Brynildsen
  • Dean Herridge
  • Stumpy Holmes
  • Richard Tuthill
  • Shigeyuki Konishi
  • Nobuhiro Tajima
  • Greg Graham
  • Greg Carr
  • Leigh Hynes

Drivers he's sat with in other events:

  • Brad Markovic
  • Mark Pedder
  • Jeff David
  • Brendan Reeves
  • Andrew Hawkeswood
 
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