"It's always nice to come home to compete again," admitted the 40-year-old Lanark exile. "Obviously, I have good memories of rallying in this part of the world and it'll be great to see the Saltires out there flying high. We had a good finish here a couple of years ago."
McRae, though, knows that will be a tough result to emulate. With the highly competitive 2011 IRC nearing its climax, this year's RACMSA Rally of Scotland line up will be the strongest yet featuring a host of IRC winners topped by reigning champion and 2010 event winner Juho Hanninen (Skoda Fabia S2000) and 2010 Monte Carlo Rally victor Bryan Bouffier (Peugeot 207 S2000). McRae, who is a regular for Proton in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, is seeded at number nine in his improving Satria Neo S2000.
"The competition is going to be really tough," he agreed. "There's a good, quality entry. It's definitely going to be one of the most keenly fought rallies of the year."
While McRae has not competed in the IRC this year, he will arrive back on familiar home territory match-fit, fresh from tackling this weekend's (1-2 October) penultimate APRC round in Japan. What's more he's looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with what are widely hailed as some of the world's classic rally stages.
"The new Carron Valley stage on the Friday night is going to be a big challenge to everybody, especially with it running in the dark," predicted McRae. "In October, it's just possible there could be a wee bit of rain or mist around, just to really spice things up a bit. After that, it's onto the familiar stages on Saturday and Sunday - and these really are some of the best roads in the world. I know I'm a Scotsman, so I'm possibly a wee bit biased, but Scotland's a fantastic country and the Rally of Scotland is a great rally to come and watch."
Public admission to each stage is just £20 per vehicle with the exception of the Carron Valley stage on Sunday morning priced at £10 per vehicle. The spectacular event kicks off with a Ceremonial Start in front of Stirling Castle at 19.00hrs on Friday and concludes at historic Scone Palace near Perth just before sunset on Sunday afternoon. Full ticketing and event details can be found on the official www.rallyofscotland.com website.