Max McRae notched up a maiden win in the European Rally Championship after taking out the Junior ERC class at the Rally Hungary 2024 season opener.

McRae, the son of 1995 British Rally Championship title-winner Alister and nephew of the late 1995 World Rally champion Colin, scored a first ERC victory of sorts for the famous McRae dynasty since Alister’s triumph in the 1996 Rally of Wales.

Max, driving a Tagai Racing Technology-run Peugeot 208 Rally4 car, alongside co-driver Cameron Fair, won the Junior ERC class by a margin of 1m40.6s from the Ford Fiesta pairing Jaspar Vaher and Sander Pruul.

McRae and Fair quickly adapted to Hungary’s gravel roads and shot to the lead following an impressive win on stage six [Kisloter], the longest test of the rally at 27.40km. The 19-year-old posted a time 25.7s faster than his nearest class rival.

Once ahead, McRae went on to dominate the class to score his first ERC win since joining the championship last year.

“This has felt a long time coming,” said McRae.

“We came close last season, we should have won last year, but this is very, very special. And it’s special because we really had to think about the event – we knew it was going to be rough, but we didn’t think it would be quite this rough.

“This definitely wasn’t the sort of event to drive flat out everywhere. It was about being more strategic with both your attack and the use of the tyres.

“Cam and I worked really hard after the recce, we came up with a plan for Saturday and it worked; we wanted to get through the first morning on one set of tyres and that was a key factor.

“I honestly feel like this result has lifted a weight from my shoulders. There’s nothing to prove anymore. We came here with a plan, we felt we could win with that plan and, finally, everything has gone our way.”

Max McRae, Cameron Fair at ERC Hungary 2024

Skoda driver Simone Tempestini won the rally outright to claim his first ERC win in dramatic fashion.

The former Junior WRC champion was handed the lead after Mikko Heikkila lost a wheel on stage 10, before new leader Martins Sesks crashed out on the penultimate stage.

This helped Tempestini and co-driver Sergiu Itu take the win by 17.0s from Mathieu Franceschi and Andy Malfoy, who picked up their first ERC podium.

The championship heads to the Spanish island of Gran Canaria next month for Rally Islas Canarias from 2-4 May, the first of five Tarmac-based ERC rounds this season.