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Thursday, 29 June, 2017 - 02:57 (UK)  

..:: Colin McRae, The early years & WRC


Early career

Colin McRae began his competitive career in motorsport driving trial bikes at an early age, although the Scot was more interested in four wheeled machines rather than two wheel bikes. At the age of sixteen, through the Coltness Car Club, McRae discovered autotesting, he soon traded his bike for a Mini Cooper and started competing. A year later, however, he began to negotiate with another club member to use his Hillman Avenger for the Kames Stages, a single–staged rally venue not far from McRae's home, the Scot finished the event fourteenth; first in his class although he had ran most of the event in a higher position.

In 1986, driving a Talbot Sunbeam, McRae entered the Scottish Rally Championship and soon made a name for himself with his speed and exciting style of driving. His driving style drew many comparisons to Finnish ex-World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen, who McRae had always idolised. He soon progressed to a Vauxhall Nova, and then onto a Ford Sierra XR 4x4. His first WRC event was the 1987 Swedish Rally behind the wheel of his Nova, and again two years later, driving the Sierra and finishing 15th overall. Later that year, he finished 5th overall at Rally New Zealand in a rear wheel drive Sierra Cosworth. 1991 saw McRae signed by Prodrive boss David Richards to his Subaru team in the British Rally Championship. McRae was British Rally Champion in both 1991 and 1992, soon graduating to the Subaru factory team at World Rally Championship level.

 

World Rally Championship

1993-1998: Subaru

On his promotion for 1993, McRae initially drove the Prodrive-built Group A Subaru Legacy alongside Finns Hannu Mikkola and Markku Alén. McRae then won his first WRC rally in the car at that year's Rally New Zealand. It was also the first rally win for the newly formed Subaru World Rally Team, shortly before the Legacy was due to be pensioned off in favour of the new Subaru Impreza 555. Such were the rising fortunes of his young Subaru factory team as they competed against the frontrunning TTE ran Toyotas, aided by the latter team's exclusion from the championship after the 1995 Rally Catalunya where it was discovered that the Japanese team had been using illegal turbochargers, it took only until 1995 for McRae to win the drivers title, which he secured with victory in a straight contest with his double champion team-mate, Carlos Sainz, on the season-ending Rally of Great Britain. Although still a winner with the outfit in individual rallies in succeeding years, including, increasingly, more specialised events such as the Acropolis Rally, Safari Rally and the Tour de Corse, McRae could not better second place in the standings in either 1996 or 1997, on both occasions behind Finland and Mitsubishi Ralliart's Tommi Mäkinen. He did, however help Subaru complete their run of three consecutive manufacturers' titles during this time. In what would turn out to be his final season with the team, in 1998 he won three more rallies and placed third in the standings, as well as winning the Race of Champions in Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands.

 

1999-2002: Ford

After several years of varying success, McRae switched to the M-Sport Ford team for 1999, driving the new Ford Focus rally car. This move was immediately rewarded with two consecutive wins at the Safari Rally and Rally Portugal. A number of shunts and unreliability issues for the new car for much of the rest of that season, however, resulted in only sixth place in the championship standings overall. Moreover, a rare personal pointless run had begun for McRae that year which was only to be halted with a podium on the following February's Swedish Rally, the beginning of a recovery which saw McRae victorious in on the asphalt turns of Catalunya and the gravel of Greece, and post 4th in the 2000 overall standings. McRae's intermittent success with Ford continued into 2001, where after failing to score in any of the first four rounds, including having momentarily led defending winner Tommi Makinen on the stages of the season opening Monte Carlo Rally prior to being forced into retirement, he then went on to score three consecutive victories in Argentina, Cyprus and Greece to tie with Makinen at the top of the points table. However, having again led the championship outright entering the final round in Great Britain, McRae once more missed out on a possible second title, crashing out and finishing second in the drivers championship, two points behind Subaru's Richard Burns.

With victory in the Safari Rally in 2002, McRae made the record books as the driver with most event wins in the World Rally Championship. His record has since been broken by Carlos Sainz, Sébastien Loeb and Marcus Grönholm.

 

2003: Citroën

For 2003, McRae signed for Citroën, a team of winning pedigree due to its successes of the previous year with young Frenchman Sebastien Loeb but otherwise undertaking its first complete campaign at World Rally Championship level. McRae's second place finish on his debut in Monte Carlo alongside Loeb and Carlos Sainz whom, aboard the Xsara WRC, helped complete a 1-2-3 finish, transpired to be the finest result he would ever achieve for the team, for the season was to end with seventh in the drivers' championship, with no victories. With the position of eventual second placed drivers' championship finisher Loeb assured, this, facilitated in part by recently introduced regulations outlawing the previous practice of three nominated points-scorers within a team, resulted in the Citroën factory team, under Guy Frequelin dropping McRae, while simultaneously retaining Sainz for the following season.

       

WRC Rally wins!

 #  Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Flag of New Zealand 23rd Rothmans Rally of New Zealand 1993 Derek Ringer Subaru Legacy RS
2 Flag of New Zealand 24th Rothmans Rally of New Zealand 1994 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
3 Flag of United Kingdom 50th Network Q Rally 1994 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
4 Flag of New Zealand 25th Smokefree Rally New Zealand 1995 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
5 Flag of United Kingdom 51st Network Q Rally 1995 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
6 Flag of Greece 43rd Acropolis Rally of Greece 1996 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
7 Flag of Italy 38° Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1996 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
8 Flag of Spain 32° Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava (Rallye de España) 1996 Derek Ringer Subaru Impreza 555
9 Flag of Kenya 45th Safari Rally Kenya 1997 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
10 Flag of France 41ème Tour de Corse - Rallye de France 1997 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
11 Flag of Italy 39° Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1997 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
12 Flag of New Zealand 10th API Rally Australia 1997 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
13 Flag of United Kingdom 53rd Netwok Q Rally 1997 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
14 Flag of Portugal 31° TAP Rallye de Portugal 1998 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
15 Flag of France  42ème Tour de Corse - Rallye de France 1998 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
16 Flag of Greece 45th Acropolis Rally of Greece 1998 Nicky Grist Subaru Impreza WRC
17 Flag of Kenya 47th Safari Rally Kenya 1999 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
18 Flag of Portugal 32° TAP Rallye de Portugal 1999 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
19 Flag of Spain 36° Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava (Rallye de España) 2000 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
20 Flag of Greece 47th Acropolis Rally 2000 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
21 Flag of Argentina 21° Rally Argentina 2001 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
22 Flag of Cyprus 29th Cyprus Rally 2001 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
23 Flag of Greece 48th Acropolis Rally 2001 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
24 Flag of Greece 49th Acropolis Rally 2002 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
25 Flag of Kenya 50th Inmarsat Safari Rally 2002 Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
         

 

       

Colin McRae. (2008, March 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:05, March 16, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Colin_McRae&oldid=198617063

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