Teenager Max McRae has taken a major step towards his international rally dream after confirming plans for this year’s Junior European Rally Championship.
A semi-regular in the Motorsport Australia Rally Championship last year, the 18-year-old will now make the move to Europe in the coming weeks in order to acclimatise for the season opener in May.
While a car and team is yet to be announced, McRae has confirmed his place for the season opening Rally Poland, as well as the rest of the six-round season.
McRae ran in four of the seven ARC rounds last year and showed plenty of promise, with his best result coming in The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally where he secured an outright podium and a win in the White Wolf Constructions ARC Production Cup.
In addition to his ARC and West Australian Rally Championship campaigns, the youngster also had a stint in the Northern Hemisphere where he took part in the Joule Donegal International Rally, Goodwood FOS Rally Stage and Nicky Grist Stages.
With a goal to drive in the Junior WRC and eventually the World Rally Championship (WRC), a campaign against Europe’s best young stars will give McRae the perfect preparation.
“Junior ERC is the perfect step for me,” McRae said.
“Competing in Australia has been amazing for the last couple of years, but I know I have to make the move and head across to Europe and that’s what this season’s all about.
“ERC is the focus for this year, but I’m definitely hoping to be able to add some more events and some more testing into the programme.
“I’ve got to thank all of my partners and sponsors who are making Junior ERC possible this year. The chance to learn new events across Europe is really important for me and my development – but the real carrot is the Junior WRC prize drive for next season. That’s definitely what we’re shooting for this year.”
The move sees the teenager continue in the footsteps of famous rallying father, which includes father Alister, uncle Colin and grandfather Jimmy – all of whom competed in the European Rally Championship at one point in their careers.
European Rally Championship manager Iain Campbell was excited to welcome McRae into the championship for 2023.
“The McRae name is one of the most iconic in rallying and we are now incredibly honoured to have a third generation of the McRae family competing in the European Rally Championship,” Campbell said.
“I am sure he will follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather and be standing on ERC podiums in the very near future. Grandfather Jim, was runner-up in the 1982 ERC in his Opel Ascona 400, taking four victories.
“The Junior ERC is a perfect stepping stone for drivers like Max coming from national level to the Junior WRC.”
While McRae will have to spend time in the ERC before getting the chance to compete in the Junior WRC, he was looking forward to the next chapter of his career.
“Talking to people like Iain, the potential career progression from Junior ERC is really clear and that’s what I’m looking at now,” McRae added.
“There are some amazing events on the European calendar – events that offer massive diversity in the nature of roads, from the super-quick stages of Poland and Latvia to the asphalt rounds in Rome and Zlin. And, of course, there’s the completely new rally in Sweden (Royal Rally of Scandinavia).
“I was over in Europe for a while last year, it kind of showed me that Europe is the epicentre of our sport. There are so many rallies going on all the time right across Europe. It’s the place to be.”
McRae begins his European journey with Rally Poland in Mikołajki on 20-21 May.
2023 Junior European Rally Championship
Round 1: ERC 79th Rally Poland – 20-21 May
Round 2: ERC Tet Rally Liepāja – 17-18 June
Round 3: ERC Royal Rally of Scandinavia – 7-8 July
Round 4: ERC Rally di Roma Capitale – 29-30 July
Round 5: ERC Barum Czech Rally Zlín – 19-20 August
Round 6: ERC IV. Rally Hungary – 7-8 October