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Alister McRae and the RED World Rally Team experienced the full range of emotions in the sport today. The Scotsman guided the Toyota S2000R to its first ever fastest category time in the World Rally Championship on the day’s penultimate forest stage, but was then sidelined with a minor suspension fault on the next.

The former British champion powered his way up the leaderboard on a day marked by changeable weather conditions and even more unpredictable grip levels in the woods north of the event’s base in Cardiff. On the day’s second loop of stages, he was on top of the car and establishing himself among the pacesetters in the Group N category. His second fastest time in Crychan 2 was followed by fastest in Epynt 2. Unfortunately for the McRae, co-driver Gordon Noble and the team, the bolts from the ball joint broke four kilometres into the start of the second run at the Halfway test. McRae was unable to continue but will restart tomorrow.

Sporting details:
Having started the day seventh, McRae climbed to fourth after SS11. He retired on SS12, but restarts under the superally regulations tomorrow.

Technical details:
The team traced the leg one brake trouble to a wheel bearing problem, which was solved at service last night. The Toyota S2000R ran without fault through all-but one of today’s forest stages, when the bolts broke from the front-left ball joint.

RED World Rally Team driver Alister McRae
“Ultimately, this is a disappointing end to the day, but there has been a lot of good news coming from the second leg. This morning’s twistier stages in mid-Wales suited our car much more, but the problem was the mud in the first two. Like yesterday, the engine characteristics of this car don’t give us the kind of torque we would like. With torque, you can pull through the mud, but with this car, if you try and put the power down in the mud, the wheels spin and the car goes sideways. There’s nothing we can do about that on the rally. The thing I have to say, and I know I’ve said it before, but this car is such good fun to drive. It’s so rewarding, it’s hard work, but it’s just great. Maybe I wasn’t on it so much yesterday, given that I’ve been away from the sport for a while, but today there really wasn’t any more to come out of me. It’s been fantastic. The rain this afternoon made things quite interesting, but again it was good for us to drive the car in these conditions. The fastest time was fantastic, everything was perfect. Then we had the flip side of this sport. We’ll be back tomorrow. ”

RED World Rally Team principal Neil Gatt
“We are really happy with the way Alister and the S2000R have continued to progress today, despite this retirement late in the day. Like he says, it is disappointing, but today the RED World Rally Team, Alister McRae and the Toyota S2000R made history, let’s not forget that part. Every single kilometre that Alister and Gordon do in the car is great news for RED and that’s why we’re coming back tomorrow. It means we have more data from and more experience with the Toyota. That’s what this event is all about for us. Of course it wasn’t ideal to only have a day testing the car before we came here and, effectively, continued our testing in public, but we knew we had to get the car out there and we had to see where we were at in terms of competition. Everybody in the team is really upbeat about the whole thing; there is weight to come out of the car and more power and torque to come from the engine, we know that and we’re working on it. Today is just a small insight into what’s still to come from the car and this team.”
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