Colin McRae (1968-2007)

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

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

When a legend dies, it’s always hard to find words adequate to mourn his passing, It is doubly so in the case of Colin McRae, killed in a helicopter accident near his home in Scotland.

McRae was no ordinary man but someone whose charisma and enthusiasm extended beyond the world of international rallying, to genuinely enthuse a whole generation with excitement and ambition.

It would be simple to imagine that his career was mapped out by virtue of being the eldest son of five-times British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae, but the truth is that his father never particularly encouraged him to take up motorsport, while his mother Margaret worried when he started to move up the ranks of motorcycle scrambling and trials. While Jimmy was in the ascendant in British rallying in Vauxhalls and Opels, Colin still too young to have a licence switched to cars, and autotests. After winning the 1985 West of Scotland Championship at age 16, as soon as he was 17 Colin acquired a Group A Talbot Sunbeam Ti and started rallying. He shared the spanner work on his cars with Barry Lockhead and thus quickly learned how the machines functioned… and how he could get the best out of them.

With the Sunbeam, he often led Group A, but the old car was fragile and retirements were frequent. In 1987 and 1988 he drove a Vauxhall Nova and began to get results. He won his class twice on the BRC and, crucially, got the backing of the British Junior Team to compete in two WRC rallies. During 1989, he drove a Group N Sierra RS Cosworth, finishing second in the group to Pentti Airikkala. Moving up to a Group A Sierra for 1990, he took second place in the BRC with this twowheel-drive car to David Llewellyn’s all-conquering Toyota Celica GT-4.

But it was on the RAC Rally of that year when the Colin McRae legend really got going. With the help of Shell Oils, he got a drive in a Sierra 4×4, and, while Lancia and Toyota battled it out for the World Championship, all British eyes were on the progress of the McRae Ford. It did not come through the rally in pristine condition, but it did finish sixth overall and well ahead of the factory Sierras. It was a performance that finally attracted a works drive from David Richards at Prodrive.

In a Subaru Legacy, McRae won the BRC in 1991 and 1992. In that second year he had a memorable run on the 1000 Lakes Rally where he added to his own legend by having three major accidents and yet still finishing eighth in a car that looked as if it had been rescued from a scrapyard. There was no doubting his speed and tenacity and for 1993 he moved up to drive alongside An Vatanen in the WRC.

*

It was just six months before he won his first event, in New Zealand, a feat he repeated in 1994 with the new Impreza before going on to win his home event, the RAC Rally. He was fourth in the WRC and hungry for more. In 1995, his season started slowly and it wasn’t until he won New Zealand for the third year running that his championship charge took off. In Spain, only extreme action by his Prodrive bosses forced him to suppress his natural desire to win, and he ceded victory to Carlos Sainz. This left them equal on points at the head of the WRC table. To be champion, he had to beat Sainz on the RAC Rally, which he proceeded to do in great style, setting fastest time on 18 of the 28 stages and eventually leading home a Subaru 1-2-3 with himself firmly at the front as Britain’s first World Rally Champion.

In 1996 it was the year of Mitsubishi and Tomml Makinen. Despite winning three rallies outright, McRae could only finish second in the WRC, but the following year he very nearly took a second title after another epic drive on the RAC Rally. He came back after losing a wheel to drive through the field and win, finishing the year a single point behind Makinen. After eight years with Subaru, McRae decided to accept an offer from Ford, joining it for the 1999 season to drive the then-new Focus WRC. Although McRae won Safari and Portugal, it was obvious the Focus was not immediately ready to win a title. The 2001 season was his best with Ford, during which he won three WRC events Argentina, Cyprus and Greece but he could only manage to come second again in the Championship, this time behind his old team-mate from Subaru days, Richard Burns. The following year, he won Acropolis and Safari but there were too many retirements. So, with just fourth place in the WRC and Ford steam-rollered by Peugeot in the Manufacturer’s title, there were suggestions of financial cutbacks for 2003, which were manifested chiefly by hiring cheaper drivers.

Still convinced of his value, McRae found a berth with Citr6en for 2003 alongside Sainz and a new boy, Sebastian Loeb. On the Monte Carlo Rally, Loeb won, with McRae close behind in a car that was entirely new to him. The young Frenchman kept that advantage over the two most

successful drivers the WRC had ever seen 25 wins apiece at that point but, despite that, everything might have been well for 2004 had not the FIA decided, from then on, that each team could only register two drivers to score points. Someone had to go at Citroen, and it turned out to be Colin McRae. At that point, his WRC career was virtually at an end. He did Rallye Raids with Nissan and, in 2005 when Skoda looked as if it might have a sudden renaissance, he drove two events for the Czech marque, finishing seventh on his beloved RAC Rally, and retiring close to the finish in Australia with third place virtually guaranteed. His last outing in the WRC was a one-off in Turkey 2006, when the weather and road conditions saw him retire.

In recent weeks there had been speculation that Corn McRae was on the point of signing a new contract to go world rallying. The buzz generated was indicative of the immense following he still had worldwide, despite not having been in a full works team for four years. His fame was spread by his involvement with Xbox and Playstation, but his heroic status within the sport was entirely due to his uncompromising approach, his desire to be fastest and, above all, his honesty. Colin McRae was a worthy hero to young and old; he’ll be sorely missed.

Motor Sport extends its condolences to his family in their double loss, to wife Alison and daughter Hollie, to brother Alister, and to Colin’s parents Margaret and Jimmy. John Davenport

Related articles

Related products