Scottish Government
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First Minister starts Rally of Scotland

Staging the RACMSA Rally of Scotland over the next three years will bring significant benefits and secure Scotland's place as a top motorsport destination, First Minister Alex Salmond said last week.

The First Minister and Sir Jackie Stewart will officially start the inaugural event, which is part of the Homecoming Programme, this evening at Scone Palace. The Ceremonial Start marks the beginning of three days of action at Scone, Blair Castle and the David Marshall Centre and the final of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The First Minister will also welcome Homecomer and top ten driver Alister McRae, who is now based in Perth, Australia, to the Rally of Scotland and present him with a Homecoming certificate.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"It is appropriate to be welcoming Alister back to Scotland to take part in this Homecoming event at this historic setting. He is one of several outstanding Scottish competitors and it would be wonderful for a Scot to take the title on home soil.

"They follow in the illustrious footsteps of the many motorsport icons and world champions that Scotland has produced in every category of the sport - such as my fellow starter Sir Jackie Stewart.

"This impressive success and strong motor sports heritage is one reason why Scotland has won the right to stage the Intercontinental Rally Challenge over the next three years. This event will be a true celebration of our contribution to the world and will showcase Scotland's stunning scenery across the globe. In the prevailing conditions, it will be the real drivers who come to the fore in the Rally of Scotland.

"It will also attract thousands of tourists to the country, generate a mini visitor boom in the local economies and add to our already impressive motor sports calendar. A truly fitting tribute to our year of Homecoming."

Alister McRae said:

"It is great to be making my own Homecoming this year to take part in the first Rally of Scotland. Living in Australia means I enjoy every opportunity to come home, so it's good to see first class events on Scotland's motorsport calendar. Professionally, I also miss the variety of events that we get here, so doing the Rally of Scotland with Proton on home turf is something that I've been really looking forward to.

"The Scottish stages really are some of the best in the world and are thrilling to drive. I am relishing the chance to chase a podium result in front of a home crowd. And it's excellent news that Scotland has won the right to stage the Intercontinental Rally Challenge until 2011 - this means I get to do it all again for the next few years. "

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