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.