Colin McRae: a true rally legend
|By Glenn Freeman||Saturday, September 15th 2007, 23:16 GMT|
The first British driver to win the World Rally Championship, Colin McRae's name will always be synonymous with great British rallying success - and with the talent to extend his success beyond rallying.
He was born in Lanark, Scotland, on August 5 1968. He was the son of Jimmy McRae, a five-time British Rally driver himself, and his brother, Alister, also competed in the sport.
McRae won the World Rally Championship in 1995 driving for Subaru, and after leaving the team he later competed for Ford and Citroen in the WRC. His last full-time season was 2003.
The Scottish driver's career began in 1985 competing in Scottish events, and he made his WRC debut a year later with a one-off appearance in Sweden. He finished 36th overall, and third in class.
His first involvement with the Prodrive Subaru squad, who he would eventually win the WRC crown with, came in 1991.
He joined them for an assault on the British Rally Championship, while he continued to enter occasional WRC events. He won the BRC in 1991 and 1992, and in 1993 he scored his first WRC victory at Rally New Zealand.
McRae only won two events during his title-winning season in 1995, but he went into the final round of the season - his home event - tied on points with his teammate Carlos Sainz.
McRae won the event ahead of the Spaniard, which earned him the title by five points. It made him the first British driver to win the World Rally Championship, and the youngest world champion.
After finishing second in the championship for the next two years with Subaru, McRae joined Ford for the 1999 season to drive the new Focus WRC, and he was there until 2002. During his final year with the team he became the driver with the most WRC victories (25), although he has since been surpassed by Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb.
After one winless year with Citroen in 2003, McRae returned to the WRC in 2005 with a one-off drive in a works Skoda Fabia at Wales Rally GB. He made the points in the car that had struggled for much of the year, and he was offered another drive in the car at Rally Australia.
McRae was heading for a remarkable second place in that event until clutch problems cruelly forced him out of the event. He claimed afterwards that he could have gone even faster, but he had been trying to conserve his position once he climbed the leaderboard.
It would be nearly a year before McRae made another shock comeback to the championship. In 2006, he was called up to replace the injured Sebastien Loeb.
However, he struggled to adapt to the latest specification Xsara WRC, and he only made one appearance for the Kronos Citroen team in Loeb's absence, at Rally Turkey.
McRae struggled to get on the pace in difficult conditions, and he was running in sixth position when electrical problems forced him to retire from what would prove to be his final WRC event.
During his time away from the WRC, McRae pursued challenges such as the Dakar Rally and the Le Mans 24 hours, where he rejoined Prodrive to race a Ferrari in the GT1 class.
He has also competed in the American X Games competition for the past two years, and in 2006 he made the headlines by rolling his car in the event but continuing to finish in second place.
McRae had also been working on his own rally car for the past couple of years, and he had been hoping to use the car in some local events in the near future.
While McRae was a big name in motorsport circles, he achieved wider fame thanks to a series of computer games that were named after him.
The 'Colin McRae Rally' series began in the late 1990s, and it's most recent title, 'Colin McRae Dirt' marked the first title to be release on the next-generation Xbox 360 console.
McRae recently claimed that he was working on getting a deal together for a WRC drive in 2008, but he also admitted that if he didn't get a drive for next season he would probably call time on his WRC career.