Colin McRae is better prepared for the Telefonica Dakar Rally this year than he was 12 months ago, and whilst the Nissan Rally Raid Team driver is aiming for a podium finish, he believes winning motorsport’s greatest challenge at only his second attempt is a real possibility.

This year’s Dakar Rally begins in Barcelona on 31 December, and while his fellow Scots will be celebrating Hogmanay, McRae will be preparing to drive his race-prepared Nissan Pickup over 5,565 gruelling miles and through five countries in 16 days, in the greatest motorsport adventure known to man.

Co-driven once again by 37-year old Swede Tina Thörner, McRae is part of a three car Nissan Rally Raid Team which also includes four-times Dakar winner Ari Vatanen (co-driven for the first time by Tiziano Siviero) and South African Cross-Country Rally Champion Giniel de Villiers and his co-pilot Jean-Marie Lurquin.

Since winning two special stages on his Dakar Rally debut in January 2004, Colin has played an integral part in the development of the new Nissan Pickup 2005 – which is 80% different to the vehicle he drove to 20th position on the Dakar 2004. This year the 36-year old 1995 World Rally Champion has tested the Pickup in Tunisia and Morocco, contested the UAE Desert Challenge and drove the 4.0-litre V6-engined six-speed sequential-shift Pickup 2005 to victory on its debut appearance on the Baja Portugal.

It’s the new Pickup 2005, a highly motivated team and his experience of racing across the Sahara that fills Colin with quiet confidence in the countdown to the start of the Dakar Rally 2005.

McRae said: "We are aiming for a podium result, but it’s such a long endurance event that it is possible to win. You have to approach the Dakar with the right attitude and have a certain amount of experience on different types of terrain, but it’s an event you can win on your first attempt if you have the right car and the right team. Last year we were very under prepared compared to where we are now and we had some reliability problems. Since January this year we’ve been testing and developing the new Pickup and hopefully we’re now at a level where we can do the full event with a minimum amount of trouble. I don’t think anyone does the Dakar and doesn’t have a problem, so you’ve just got to limit the number of problems and manage them as best as you can. Personally I’ll be setting off with a win in mind."


Published : 21/12/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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