Subaru driver Alister McRae crowned King of Millen's Mountain
In a masterful driving display Scottish rally star Alister McRae piloted the Vantage Motorsport Subaru WRX to victory at the Leadfoot Festival in a time of 49.43secs at the Hahei, Coromandel Peninsula event today.
It was the first time the winner’s trophy has gone to anybody other than a Millen family member and McRae says he “managed to get a great run at the end there.” When asked if it was the perfect run, however, he laughed and says “no because Rod’s [Millen] gone quicker than that.”
His solution – “I’m coming back next year!”
In a real testament to the quintessentially Kiwi brand, there were three Subarus in the top ten, with Carl Ruiterman and Leigh Hopper finishing seventh and tenth respectively. Driving his wickedly-powerful 800hp (596kW) 2009 Subaru WRX STi, Ruiterman clocked a time of 52.55secs.
Pukekohe-based Ruiterman, who owns E & H Motors with his brother Hans, is an engine tuner by trade and admits he “got a little bit carried away,” building this hot hatch.
The 2litre engine was stroked up to a 2.1litre, it runs STi front and rear diffs, plus “big cams and valves and too much power,” he says, with a laugh.
Hopper's Subaru had recorded times in the vicinty of 53secs leading up to the final Top Ten Shootout but mechanical issues hampered its performance on the run that mattered.
Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper says it was a perfect Leadfoot Festival for McRae to win.
"You couldn't think of a better way to celebrate 25 years of the WRX than a legendary car like the Vantage Motorsport WRX winning the event in the capable hands of Alister McRae."
Subaru Brand Ambassador Ben Hunt finished the weekend just outside the top ten but had a “fantastic time” being part of the Subaru WRX’s 25th anniversary driving his friend Dan Kane’s 1999 Subaru WRX Coupe.
“It was great to catch up with all the Subaru fans and see my sponsors, who were attending this incredible event,” Hunt says.
The Leadfoot Festival was about more than just the amazing motorsport feats happening on the driveway, Mr Dumper adds.
“Right from when we first partnered with Rod and Shelly we knew this event would grow into something special. This year’s event is proof of that dream coming to fruition. As a New Zealand-based business, Subaru has managed to encourage more manufacturers to come along, which has helped to make it even more of a spectacle. People need to understand this is not just a petrol-head event, it’s a family-orientated, fun day that happens to have a bit of world-class driving action going on in the background.
“From a Subaru perspective, we have had hundreds of Subaru customers come to join us in our tent, share their stories and look at our new models. We have also enjoyed introducing other customers to the beauty of All-Wheel Drive for the first time and many were impressed with our new super safe Impreza 2.0 Sport priced at $29,990.
"It was a particularly special Leadfoot Festival for us as a brand, having the 25 best WRXs on display," Mr Dumper says.
The 25 best WRX drivers thoroughly enjoyed their weekend of hospitality at the Leadfoot Festival with Sue Wickett, of Rotorua describing being chosen to drive her 1996 Subaru Impreza WRX - as one of the 10 to parade up the driveway yesterday and today as a “bucket list experience.”
For Karaka’s Sean Parkes getting his 1998 WRX Version 4 STi Type R to the Leadfoot Festival was an expensive exercise as he needed to replace the engine at short notice. Having his rare WRX on display was however, worth the effort.
“It’s an honour,” he says.
CAPTIONS: Scottish rally star Alister McRae gives the thumbs up after winning the 2017 Leadfoot Festival in the Vantage Motorsport Subaru WRX today. PHOTO: DAVID PEARCE.
Alister McRae storms up the Leadfoot Festival driveway in the Vantage Motorsport Subaru WRX to record the winning time of 49.43secs today. PHOTO: GEOFF RIDDER.
Subaru WRX STi driver Carl Ruiterman on his way to seventh in the Leadfoot Festival's Top Ten Shootout. PHOTO: GEOFF RIDDER.
The 25 best WRX competition winners line-up beside the Subaru display tent at the Leadfoot Festival. PHOTO: GEOFF RIDDER.