Who is Colin McRae?

Author

Paul Fearnley

View profile
Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Colin McRae is a phenomenon. A purveyor of stunning stage times and spectacular accidents. A winner with a winner’s confidence. At the ripe old age of 24 he has stamped his mark indelibly on the world rallying scene, in a sport where you are not considered to be at your peak until pushing 30.

After Colin’s second place on this year’s Swedish Rally, Stig Blomqvist, a contemporary of Roger Clark, reckoned the Scot to be the best rally driver this country has ever produced. On the Acropolis Rally Armin Schwarz raved about the tyre tracks Colin was leaving behind, the German Toyota driver expecting to discover a very battered Subaru Legacy around every corner. He was to be disappointed for Colin finished fourth to match his father’s performance of 1989. The Finns are not renowned for cheering foreign drivers, especially now they have started to win their beloved 1000 Lakes, yet they took to Colin like a long lost son. Toivonen returned? The Italians lapped him up even though he put Lancia’s nose out of joint by winning the 1991 Bettega Memorial Rally in its own backyard. A man with the Midas Touch.

A man totally unfazed by big accidents, too. Two years ago he arrived in Harrogate at the end of the RAC Rally with his RED-prepared Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 looking as though it had been in a demolition derby. One of its rear doors was held closed by a latch from a farm gate, no corner had escaped unscathed, and yet he was sixth after setting a string of fastest times on his home Scottish stages.

Enter Dave Richards, a man whose life has been a series of goals — perceived and then attained. Sure, everyone knew Colin was fast, but could he be trusted with a works drive? Clearly Richards thought so and now he is confident enough to tip his young charge to be world champion in 1994. When Richards makes a prediction people listen.

So what does the dapper boss of Prodrive see in the young man from Lanark? Colin possesses innate car control. The impression is given that he doesn’t think too much about what he is doing, that he just gets in and goes. Watching him on the stages is a joy, and he possesses the ability to take the breath away even from the most cynical hack. Prodrive’s mechanics often allude to how their man loves to drive. Testing is not a chore with Colin, belt him into a rally car and he is in his element. On the loose the Subaru is flung round like an Escort. His lines are more flamboyant than the likes of Sainz, Kankkunen and Biasion, but they are usually totally accurate. This is achieved with an apparent minimum of effort. Whereas Auriol, Biasion and Delecour sit hunched over the wheel, urging their mounts on, Colin adopts a very relaxed stance at the controls. He is helped in this by the Subaru, which is regarded as the best chassis in the pack, its turn-in visibly better than the rest. In-car camera work gives credence to the belief that the car’s speed is indirectly proportional to Colin’s input; the use of the semi-automatic gearbox, which is operated by two buttons on the steering wheel, increases the feeling of Colin’s laid-back, total control.

Only Auriol of his contemporaries has a similar ability to pull mind-numbing stage times out of the bag. Today’s World Championship rallies are won by seconds not minutes, and to pull out 10 seconds over a single stage is a rare occurrence nowadays — yet Colin has done it at home, on the ice and snow of Sweden, in the rough and tumble that is the Acropolis, and over the high speed roller-coaster of the 1000 Lakes. Furthermore a dazzling time is usually recorded immediately after a problem, often a roll, as on the 1991 RAC Rally following his much publicised off in Grizedale. In terms of sheer speed only Auriol can match him.

The photographer’s dream he may be, the journalist’s dream he certainly isn’t — no king of the one-liner here. Basically a 24 year-old who lives with his mum, Colin is shy. There are no sides to him, however, and approaches at service halts are generally met with an affable response. Naturally, he has come under glare of the national press, and the Fleet Street hacks have been impressed by the way in which he has dealt with the pressures heaped upon him; not by a flurry of glib throwaway quotes, with which they love to pepper their articles, but with the underlying self-belief he possesses without any of the prima donna affectations often present in such precocious sport stars. Colin is a nice guy.

The £100,000 prize put up by Lombard should a UK driver win this year’s RAC Rally clearly increased both the pressure on Colin and the media coverage. Outwardly he maintained his “what will be, will be” approach. He took the lead with a series of stupefying times through Wales and the jackpot loomed. Then Grizedale and disaster. TV pictures of Colin sitting disconsolately in a service van, hand on chin, may not have had quite the same mass appeal of Gazza kissing his country’s emblem after England’s semifinal defeat during Italia ’90, but it showed that he is no ice man. Missing out on the money was a blow, missing out on the victory provided the heartache.

Thirty six hours later he was thrilling the Chester crowds with a series of spectacular power-on do-nuts. Handbrake turns into controls — a kid in a sweetshop. A talented kid.

PTF

Related articles

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore

Related products

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore