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The star-making Subaru that sparked a young Breen's rally dreams

Following the tragic news of Craig Breen’s death in a testing crash, Autosport revisits his pick for his all-time favourite car in tribute, which he originally selected in February 2022

Colin McRae, Derek Ringer, Subaru Legacy RS

Colin McRae, Derek Ringer, Subaru Legacy RS

Motorsport Images

With the motorsport world mourning the sudden loss of Craig Breen, the regular Friday Favourite series pays tribute to the immensely popular Irishman who died on Thursday.

Synonymous with future World Rally Championship title winners Colin McRae and Richard Burns in the early 1990s, it’s easy to see why the Subaru Legacy RS became a cult classic.

It’s a machine that struck a chord with a young Craig Breen, the Irishman going on to forge his own rallying story in the WRC driving for Citroen, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford. Rallying runs in the family, courtesy of Craig’s 2005 Irish national champion father Ray, and Breen said the Subaru Legacy RS “has a special place in my heart”.

Subaru had dabbled in the WRC courtesy of its Group A Leone challenger in the 1980s, but it was the Legacy RS’s arrival in 1990 that ignited the Japanese manufacturer’s charge to the summit of rallying’s top tier and following period of global domination with the Impreza.

Developed by David Richards’ Prodrive operation, the 400-horsepower Legacy RS endured a slow start to life in the WRC’s Group A era, with Markku Alen achieving a best of fourth in its first season on Rally Finland.

But, by the end of its lifespan in 1993, the Legacy RS had become a firm favourite of both McRae and Burns, helping launch their successful WRC careers with Subaru. In 1992, McRae announced himself on the world stage by driving to second in Rally Sweden before claiming his first win in New Zealand, driving the iconic 555-liveried Legacy the following season.

McRae sprung to stardom aboard a Subaru Legacy RS, winning his two BRC titles and first WRC events with the car

McRae sprung to stardom aboard a Subaru Legacy RS, winning his two BRC titles and first WRC events with the car

Photo by: Motorsport Images

It proved to be a dominant force in the British Rally Championship too. McRae drove a Rothmans-backed Legacy to back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, a precursor to his WRC success with Subaru in 1995. Burns made it three BRC titles in a row for the Legacy RS in 1993, driving a striking Elonex example before going on to lift the 2001 WRC crown – also with Subaru, after a stint with Mitsubishi.

It’s this success that caught the eye of a very young Breen, who was born in February 1990 and conceded “I don’t think I was reading magazines at that point!” His love for the Legacy was further stoked by driving an example owned by his father at the Wexford Volkswagen Stages Rally in Ireland in 2021.

“I did a small rally, near my home in Ireland in October time, with the Legacy dad bought and I absolutely fell in love with it," Breen told Autosport.

“That car is from the era I grew up in the early 1990s. I was watching them at home rallies in Ireland and on the world stage - obviously when Colin McRae was driving the Rothmans one in the British Championship, that always left a bit of a mark on me. Having driven it myself, I really like to drive it!

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“Those are my very early memories of the sport; seeing Colin in the Rothmans car, then Richard Burns in the Elonex car, and then Alister McRae running around in them. I was very young, but it is probably my favourite car to be fair.”

Burns made it a hat-trick of BRC titles for the Legacy in 1993 as he started out on a career that would yield the 2001 WRC crown

Burns made it a hat-trick of BRC titles for the Legacy in 1993 as he started out on a career that would yield the 2001 WRC crown

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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