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Brothers won’t be in arms for Rally New Zealand


Brothers won’t be in arms for Rally New Zealand

Scottish brothers Colin and Alister McRae won’t be brothers in arms at next week’s Propecia Rally New Zealand which starts in Auckland on Thursday October 3.

Younger brother Alister has been forced to withdraw suffering from injuries he received from a mountain bike accident two weeks ago.

The Mitsubishi driver fell off his mountain bike about a week before Rally Sanremo but started the Italian tarmac event last Friday. He was withdrawn after the end of the first leg due to his injuries.

McRae is suffering from bruising of the liver and has been ordered not to drive a rally car for at least a month.

``It was a fairly big fall, I went over the handlebars and landed on my back," McRae said.

``I went to the Accident and Emergency (hospital) but was given the all-clear. I took it easy before the rally but it took more out of me than I thought it would.

“The team withdrew me from Sanremo to recover and the team surgeon suggested I had some more checks when I got home. It was then that the bruising was discovered.

“It’s a sahame to miss New Zealand as it is my favourite event but I hope to be back in the car for Australia.’’

Team Director, John Easton said; “I know Alister will be disappointed not to be competing in New Zealand, as it is an event he enjoys and excels on. However, his health is obviously the most important thing and the team wishes him well for a quick recovery.”

Finn Jaani Paasonen and co-driver Arto Kapanen will stand in for the Scot on the flowing gravel event. Paasonen has had two outings in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC this season, working up to fourth in Sweden before hitting problems.

Meanwhile brother Colin, the 1995 world champion and three-times Rally New Zealand winner, is still at the centre of rumours that he is leaving the Ford team at the end of the season.

He sidestepped suggestions that he might have to take a pay cut next year as negotiations for a new World Rally Championship contract continue.

McRae, lying third behind the Peugeot pair of Marcus Gronholm and defending champion Richard Burns in the drivers’ standings, has a multi-million dollar annual contract with Ford. They are expected to make budget cuts that may force them to release either McRae or Carlos Sainz and they have yet to make a formal bid to retain the Scot.

Ford chief Malcolm Wilson confirmed that money is the key factor in negotiations with McRae at the moment.

However McRae, who has been linked with a move to Citroen or Subaru, sidestepped talk of accepting a pay cut.

``I’m not really thinking about that. The priority is to get a team that can win the championship.’’

McRae’s title chances disappeared when he finished out of the points at Sanremo, although he is keen to finish well and is targetting a return to his favourite gravel roads of New Zealand to spark a revival of fortunes.

Drivers arrive at the weekend to begin reconnaissance for Rally New Zealand on Monday. The shakedown test for drivers takes place at Helensville and Kaukapakapa north of Auckland on Thursday 3 October with the rally show at Aotea Square in downtown Auckland followed by the ceremonial start from 6pm.

The first day sees the rally head to Waikato for eight special stages with the service park in Raglan on Friday 4 October, ending with the Super Stage at Manukau City at 7pm. Saturday includes 10 special stages north of Auckland, with service at Ruawai, with a final eight special stages south of Auckland on Sunday with service at Te Kauwhata before the official finish and ceremony at the Manukau Sports Bowl at 3.30pm.

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