McRae sets sights on China Rally double

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 May, 1998, 12:00am

The pacesetter in this year's World Rally Championship, Scot Colin McRae, will return to defend his 555 China Rally crown at Huairou, north of Beijing next month.

Although the course is not a round of this year's World Championship, the 555 Subaru World Rally Team will enter two Imprezas in Group A. Italian Piero Liatti will pilot the second car.

McRae emphatically won last year's inaugural event and says he is confident of completing a double.

'Last year we were in the enviable position of having a healthy lead . . . I'm confident that we can take a second consecutive victory,' he said.

The former world champion is no stranger to the mainland, having competed in the now defunct Hong Kong-to-Beijing 'straight-line' rally which was scrapped in favour of the 'cloverleaf' China Rally format. The China Rally is expected to be included as a round of the World Championship next year.

Other top line drivers who have confirmed their participation include Japan's Yoshio Fujimoto, who will drive a Toyota Corolla World Rally Car in Group A.

Fujimoto is a former winner of the Safari Rally in Kenya and an experienced campaigner who finished third last year.

The second annual China Rally, round two of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, is scheduled to begin on June 19 and finish on June 23. Nominations close on May 25.