McRae junior ready for long awaited ARC debut

Nephew of the famous Colin McRae, Max McRae will make his RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) debut this month when he lines up at the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland.

Born and bred in Western Australia, McRae has spent the last year competing in the Dunlop Tyres Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship before announcing his plans to race in the ARC this year.

While he was meant to make his debut in Canberra last month, the delayed arrival of his brand-new Ford Fiesta R2 forced the teenager to wait a little longer before getting the chance to compete.

Although just 16-years-old, McRae has already shown plenty of raw talent behind the wheel – his best performance coming in the WA state championship’s season opener last month, the Novus Glass Winvale Park Stages.

Having made lots of improvement in the lead up to the rally, McRae got off to a strong start, winning two of the first four stages, before fuel issues saw him relegated to the bottom of the field and out of the next two stages.

Not to be deterred, once he got back out on stages, he showcased his quality and steered the Maxim Motorsport prepared Subaru to the five consecutive stage wins.

Now with his Spanish prepared Ford Fiesta R2 in Australia and fully prepped, McRae confirmed his long-awaited debut to continue his family’s legacy in rally at the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland.

“The car is ready and I am mentally and physically prepared, which is always a good thing to be. I am just waiting to see with COVID, but hopefully all goes well and I will be on the plane to Queensland in a couple of weeks,” McRae said.

“The reason we couldn’t do Canberra was because the Fiesta was delayed in Singapore. As our main goal this year is seat time, we felt that if the new car wasn’t here, we would wait.

“Funnily enough, it was also delayed for the WA round, so we had to use the Subaru, which is still a really good car.

“And even though I didn’t get a good overall result in WA, the event still gave me a lot of confidence – especially since we won more than half of the stages.

“I just can’t wait to compete in Queensland. It will be my first ever time getting on a plane and going to an event so I am buzzing.”

McRae’s progress through the sport has been seamless.

Getting one of his first competitive opportunities during the Shannons Targa Rallysprint in a Suzuki Swift at the start of last year, McRae then made his gravel rally debut just seven months later, competing in the Truck Wholesale WA Bakers Hill Sprint.

It was a tough initiation into the sport with McRae retiring from the event.

The youngster only had to stew on that result for two months though, eventually overcoming it with an impressive 11th outright and N3 class win in the 2020 Make Smoking History Forest Rally.

McRae’s progression continued to improve as he then picked up 10th and sixth respectively in the next two state events.

Although there is some pressure on the teenager to forge a successful career in the sport due to his surname, McRae remains down to earth about his position.

“The main goal this year will be just to get as much seat time and experience as I can,” McRae added.

“With that said, I think all young people want to eventually run in the WRC and be the best. That will be my goal of course. I’d like to think that it’s a long-term goal.

“This year is purely for development. I am not going for results, but that doesn’t mean I am going to back off. I’ll go for as many strong results as I can. But I must be smart about it.

“I think there are going to be people all over the place watching my progress. At the moment, my surname does put pressure on me, but at the end of the day, it’s not the name that’s going to help me climb the ranks, it’s my skill.”

The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 21-23 May.