Colin McRae was forced to retire from the Rally of Australia in Perth today as his world championship dream went up in smoke. Scotland's former world champion suffered an oil leak midway through the sixth stage and could not continue. With just the British Rally remaining to decide the championship, McRae – who started this week six points behind leader Marcus Gronholm - must now hope the Finn finishes out of the top two to keep his slim title hopes alive. But Gronholm led Tommi Makinen by seven seconds after stage six.
Meanwhile, McRae's fellow Ford driver, Carlos Sainz, has been disqualified after he was deemed guilty of illegally stopping to deliberately lose time on the ninth stage. The Spaniard, now faces an uphill task to win the world title. Ford, whose chances of winning the manufacturers' crown have been hit by the double exit, said they would not appeal against Sainz's disqualification.
Filed by Shane Murray