Tuesday | 22 Nov 2022

WRC's 50 Greatest Moments: Indonesia marks first WRC rally in Asia

With Europe, Africa, North and South America and Oceania ticked off, all that remained for the WRC was a trip to Asia. That was realised in 1996 when the championship headed for Indonesia.

Located just above the equator in the northern city of Medan, Rally Indonesia posed a host of all-new challenges as humidity levels hovered around 95 per cent. Juha Kankkunen likened the conditions with attempting to drive in a Finnish sauna, while up to 14 litres of water needed to be consumed each day for hydration!

Adding to the challenge were rapidly changing weather conditions, with unpredictable monsoon-like rain showers reducing some sections of stages to mud baths. 

Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen set the early pace - the Subaru and Mitsubishi rivals pulling clear of the field after the opening leg. But Mäkinen’s Lancer Evolution ground to a halt on day two when its intercooler failed, handing a four-minute advantage to Scotsman McRae.

Rally Indonesia Highlights 1996

With such a sizeable lead heading into the closing stages, you’d be forgiven for assuming McRae would take it easy. 

Did he? Of course not. 

A final day crash forced McRae’s Impreza into retirement - leaving Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz and Piero Liatti scrapping for victory honours. 

Kankkunen, driving a Toyota Celica, was hampered by technical issues and could only muster third overall. Liatti, despite his best efforts, was not able to reel Sainz in - and so it was the Spaniard who took the spoils. 

This would mark Sainz’s only win in what was his first year aboard a Ford Escort RS Cosworth. He’d jumped ship from Prodrive at the end of the previous season having felt he was not properly supported by the English team.

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