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"I can understand his concerns - he wants to win the World Championship. But so do we"
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Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
McRae issues Ford ultimatum

Portugal, March 1999: McRae's last rally win
Former world rally champion Colin McRae could quit Ford unless his team fixes the technical problems which have forced him out of six of the last 11 races.

If the car continues to be unreliable and we don't start winning - and I mean not just one win but consistently - then I will have to look elsewhere

Scottish driver Colin McRae
McRae has not won a rally for over a year and has completed only two of his last 14 events.

"If the car continues to be unreliable and we don't start winning - and I mean not just one win but consistently - then I will have to look elsewhere," said McRae.

McRae won the first two rallies of the 1999 season - his first with Ford after his switch from Subaru - but then his problems started.

Of the following 11 races, he finished two, crashed in three and was forced out of six with engine trouble.

McRae came third in the second race of the season in Sweden...
To make matters worse, he was watched his replacement at Subaru - fellow Brit Richard Burns - move to the top of the 2000 Championship.

Ford are confident that McRae will not leave the team and believe that they can work together to recapture the world title, won last year by Finn Tommi Makinen.

"Colin is happy with Ford but, as a competitor, he wants a car with which he can win the world championship and Ford want to provide him with that," said a Ford spokesman.

"We have only had four rallies in the championship series of 14. There are a lot of miles to be covered yet.

"We intend sitting down and negotiating a new contract with Colin and we are optimistic that he will be in the team beyond this year.

...But then failed to finish in Kenya
Ford say their Focus car is the quickest car in the championship but admit it needs to be more reliable.

"In rallying terms, the car is still new.

"It is only in the early stages of its second season and there is still development work going on with the car."

Whether the car's technical problems have been ironed out in time for Saturday's Catalunya Rally in Spain - which he won in 1996 - remains to be seen.

Championship leader Burns has had no such problems this season and will be aiming to seal his hat-trick of 2000 victories.

Meanwhile Burns was powering to the top of the championship table
The Subaru driver, who has won on the gravel in Kenya and Portugal during the past five weeks, is unsure how his new Impreza WRC 2000 will fare on its debut on asphalt.

"We are fairly happy with the car but we've been trying different tyre compounds. I hope we're competitive and able to challenge but it will be difficult," he said.

The Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar provides the base for the event, with competitors set to tackle 1,874 km over three days.

McRae begun the 1999 season with two wins, but then his problems started. Here is his full record since:

Catalunya Rally - forced out with turbo problems
Tour de Corse - overcomes gear difficulties to finish fourth
Acropolis Rally in Greece - Burns wins after McRae is forced out with transmission trouble
New Zealand Rally - both Burns and McRae forced out with technical problems
China Rally - McRae breaks his front suspension after hitting a rock, Burns finishes second
Rally Australia - McRae fails to finish after a 100mph smash, Burns wins
Rally of Great Britain - McRae crashes again as Makinen is confirmed 1999 champion

Monte Carlo Rally - Makinen wins, McRae forced out with engine trouble
Swedish Rally - Takes third, his first finish for six races, behind Makinen and Gronholm
Safari Rally in Kenya - McRae fails to finish as Burns wins
Rally of Portugal - Burns wins again as McRae is again forced out early

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See also:

17 Mar 00 | Motorsport
McRae makes early Portugal exit
27 Feb 00 | Motorsport
Burns wins safari rally
13 Feb 00 | Motorsport
Gronholm wins Swedish rally
22 Jan 00 | Motorsport
Makinen wins in Monte Carlo
20 Apr 99 | Sport
McRae pulls out
07 Nov 99 | Sport
Burns' win but Makinen's title
24 Mar 99 | Sport
McRae completes repeat victory
28 Feb 99 | Sport
McRae success on Safari
21 Jan 99 | Sport
McRae third in Monte Carlo
13 Feb 99 | Sport
McRae tumbles out in Sweden
20 Nov 99 | Sport
The next Battle of Britain
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