Colin McRae, the story of a Legend
Life of a Legend
Colin McRae was born in 1968 in Lanark, Scotland. He grew up watching his father, Jimmy McCrae, win five British Rally Championship titles and it was no wonder that he did not devote himself to the family plumbing business, but later, his younger brother Alister, chose sports. In his junior days, he used to do motocross, and then crossed to four wheels.
Colin began his rally career in 1986, in the Scottish Championships, which he will win in 1988. He made his WRC debut in Sweden in 1987, and started his career uphill when he became a factory pilot in 1991, joining the Pro drive crew, which was preparing Subaru for the competition cars.
He wins the British Championship in '91. and '92, and occasionally appears in the World Championships. The same ones in '92. it did not go unnoticed that the potential triumph at the Swedish Rally, Macrae had escaped mostly due to a tire defect on the last day. What the world got, it was seen that year in Finland. Already in training, he overturned Subaru, on the first day of the rally he performed a seven fold flip, after which Legacy did not look like himself. As if that wasn't enough, the next day he flew out again and halved the tree that was in his way.
At Pro drive they knew that Colin was always driving at full throttle, so they were ready to forgive him for the rich and relatively frequent thrashing of cars. In the material damage done, the Macro-Ringer tandem was the most expensive setup of the time, as much as the experienced copilot, at the cost of arguing, tried to get his fiery fellow to the importance of staying on the road.
Subaru's credo was that a young driver who gives 110% can be lowered for those "superfluous" 10%, and that someone who is limited to 90% can hardly get out to 100%. Hence the confidence was unconditional, and the Scottish returnee not only with fast-paced spectacular eyes but also with absolute competitiveness.
Subaru Epoch: wins and titles
The first global celebration awaited the New Zealand Rally in 1993, which McRae won, and this is a long-awaited, crucial step towards the ensuing greatness. The recognizable driver's handwriting was soon named: "Mac Attack". Colin's trademark was driving on the border of an accident (often across it), without mercy on himself, the co-pilot or the car. Admittedly, it didn't take long for another well-deserved nickname: 1994's "Colin McCrash."
Experienced, very young, McRae rose to the top early in his chosen discipline. He became the 1995 World Champion, behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza. Two wins were enough, the first in New Zealand, second and pivotal in last season's rally in the UK, where, in a direct match with teammate Sainz, Colin settled the championship in his favor with only five points of advantage. It was the year of Impreza's final triumph: first and second place in the driver's competition, they also brought the first crown in the manufacturer category.
The Scotsman then became Britain's first Rally World Champion, the first driver to win the title at the wheel of Subaru, as well as the youngest winner of the Championship. This achievement threw Britain into ecstasy: now they had a man whose name and results they could relate to. A breakthrough on the big stage, and then a championship won in Subaru, they had, in addition to sports, it has a great effect on the perception of this Japanese brand in public. Their cars, which, at least in Britain, have more often played the role of a means of transport for farmers have also been given prestigious attributes and become widely preferred. At the time, McRae was sitting in Jordan's Formula One: he tested the Martin Brundle's car at the 1996 Silverstone test.
What a great combination of Subaru and McRae they were, testifies to the fact that, after the championship title, Colin was vice-champion of the world for two consecutive years and then third in the overall standings. In the 1997 season, with new co-driver Nicky Grist, he won more rallies than anyone else (Safari, Corsica, San Remo, Australia and Wales), but the title lacked a single point. For the standards of the proud Scot, it was too little, because the runner-up was nothing more than the first to lose. Makinen entered a phase of domination with Mitsubishi, and McRae rides "as if there were no tomorrow" contributed decisively to Subaru after 1995. constructors championships win both '96 and '97. Since 1999, Colin has been searching for a new challenge and a new environment in which he would once again ascend to the throne, where his partner would later become Sainz again.
With Ford and Citroen...
McRae's arrival coincided with the serious intentions of Ford to make a winning machine from its new rally weapon, the Focus model. As early as the first year of collaboration, Colin wins in Kenya and Portugal, and in 2000 wins Catalan and Rally of Acropolis. The evolution of each new car is fraught with special problems, not even Ford is immune to them, and McRae adds to that his own list of accidents.
The next season was to finally bear the fruits of that painstaking process. Not wanting to let another car ready for the top, whose development he had contributed so much to, McRae refused to move to Peugeot.
After a futile start, Colin tied the win in Argentina, in Cyprus and Greece and re-entered the title game. He entered the final rally of the championship as first place, ahead of Burns and Makinen. While in the lead, McRae "overthrew" the co-pilot's instructions, missed the race line by 15 centimeters, and rolled colossally. So the best opportunity to capitalize on all the effort put into Ford Focus since 1999 has failed, and described the event as "the biggest disappointment of his career" by the Scot. The crown goes to Richard Burns that year, and Colin is the world champion for the third time. It looked like this British rivalry would be long-term, but Burns retired from the sport when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which sadly would take his life in 2005.
In 2002, McRae won two rallies, Acropolis and Safari, which then promoted him to the most trophy driver of all time since he reached his 25th in Kenya, will also turn out to be his last career win. That record surpassed Sainz first, with Loeb and Gronholm now ahead. However, Ford already announced in September that it would not extend the contract with the Scot.
McRae is believed to have sought a salary of £ 5M a year, and Ford was prevented from directing money into developing cars and recruiting younger and cheaper pilots.
The amount demanded, however, was who had to pay. Just a day after Ford's announcement, Citroen released his own and announced that he had signed a one-year contract with Colin. In 2003, the French put together a dream team and showed at least three things: first, how serious a role they intend to play in the World Rally Championship, then, what budget is set for it, finally a refined taste in choosing a driver. Having Sainz, McRae and Loeb on the same team means playing big. Former Subaru and Ford colleagues continued to share the same colors on the third team in a row, but few people suspected that Sebastian Loeb would play the first violin in this superposition.
It started with a fantastic triple win in Monte Carlo, but then the Citroen Musketeers continued on different paths - Loeb as the title contender, Sainz as the valuable team point winner (one win, three times the other) and Loeb's mentor. McRae had a below-average season and after Monte Carlo no longer climbed to the podium until the end of the year.
The final 45 points were only enough for seventh place in the overall standings, not worse since 1992.
Working to prevent the formation of such superheroes, the FIA has enacted a set of regulations that prevented Citroen from continuing with the trio of stars. Someone had to leave and the French logically thanked McRae for their cooperation. Colin never dated Xsara, nor did he hide that working in a French team was simply different.
Hardly anyone had any idea that 2003 would be McRae's last full season at WRC. A possible option was to return to Subaru, but they also opted for youth there and paired Solberg with Hirvonen.
Without adequate seats and bereft of obligations at the WRC, McRae competes in the Dakar Rally with Nisan in 2004 and 2005. Balance sheet: in both events, two stage wins, but also an accident at the stage when he had the lead. With a six-minute advantage, at high speed, he catapulted his pick-up and remained unharmed. There were no sideways to the circuit either: behind the wheel of the Ferrari, he competed at Le Mans 24 Hours, where he came third in the GT1 class.
For generations, McRae fans have become synonymous with rallying, the main "culprit" for the magnetic attraction of this sport. Not only because of the bravura they admired watching on television or live, but also for games for computers and consoles. The first signage game was released in 1998, soon became a bestseller and opened a series of new and upgraded variants for all major platforms.
This commercial success, crucially backed by Colin's name, allowed the rally to cross the sporting boundaries and open many previously closed doors. It's an irony, but McRae himself wasn't particularly warmed up for computers. A big rival, Richard Burns, called Colin "Lara Croft" of a rally, because many of the kids fascinated by Colin McRae's games didn't know that a man with that name really existed.
A future that has not arrived...
A new opportunity at WRC emerged, surprisingly, in 2005 at the Skoda factory team. The Czechs needed a true leader, Colin wanted a cockpit. The performance in Wales brought seventh place and points to a car that has been problematic all year. The success created an opportunity to try again.
In Australia, McRae was in an incredible second place when clutch problems eliminated him from the rally. Only two rides showed that this combination was not only a lure for the audience, but also that it could function in the longer run as well. A scattered team, often headed in all the wrong directions at the same time, he was finally dealing with a driver from an authority whose technical knowledge was an invaluable added quality.
McRae was ready to ride for the Czech team in 2006 only if Skoda's performance was a factory one, but they did not have the money to do so in Mladá Boleslav, so they put privateers in operation. The former world champion has not seen himself in such a milieu.
Colin made his last 146th World Cup rally in October last year in Turkey, when the Kronos team hired him quickly to step in instead of the freshly injured Loeb. The task was complicated: to get Gronholm as many points as possible while Loeb was lying in bed with a fractured upper arm. Colin and Xsara didn't even make friends in 2003, and the time spent apart and changing the 2006 technical package did nothing to make the car and driver more sympathetic to one another. McRae had a lot of trouble fighting for the last points in Turkey, eventually giving up sixth place because of an alternator problem.
In 2006 and 2007, the Scot performed on the American X- games (extreme and action sports) but also preparing the future for the Dakar Rally. He was trying to leave the door to the WRC open, seeking the 2008 race seat, and acknowledging that if he failed to secure it, he would definitely forget about the WRC, since another break would be too much.
In the middle of the year, Colin joined the X- Raid Tim, aiming to attack Dakar 2008 in their BMW X3, and the plan was to win the largest marathon rally in the world for the farthest two years. In July, he competed for his new team in Spain, with Tina Turner, an old navigator and companion from Nisan Day, and they expected him at the Emirates Desert Challenge in late October...
Tragic end and McRae's legacy
On Saturday, September 15, around 4 in the afternoon local time, a helicopter registered to Colin McRae crashed about one mile from his family home in Lanark, Scotland, and completely burned. It took a long time to identify the remains of the victims.
Initial information said the crash took four lives and included two adults and two children among the victims. It was not until September 16 that the fears of Colin McRae, his five-year-old son Johnny Gavin, and two family friends, Graham Duncan and six-year-old Ben Porcelli, were officially confirmed. During the crash, McRae was piloted, and the accident is assumed to be due to a mechanical failure. Huge, human, family and sporting tragedies have taken place.
It's not just the auto-sports world that has been silenced by this terrible blow. His first boss from Subaru time, David Richards, after learning the terrible news, described his former colleague:
"Colin had a fighting spirit like no other in my life. It was like he was saying 'I can do anything.' It's not my habit to call anyone a legend, but it's a very fitting term for Colin. It is a passion and dedication to the sport that I have rarely seen in others. You knew that whenever you were behind the wheel, extract the last atom of performance. Despite all the success, he remained a very approachable person, someone who always had time to talk to the fans and someone who continued to support the sport that brought him fame. "
Colin McRae had 146 WRC starts for Subaru, Ford, Citroen and Skoda. He recorded 25 wins, 9 second and eight third place finishes. Of all his rallies, 28.8% finished on the podium, and due to incidents or failures, he gave up 60 times (41.1% of appearances). He scored points on 79 occasions - a total of 626 - and was fastest at 477 speeds.
He earned his first special exam and first points in New Zealand in 1989. He first came to the UK in 1991 and made his podium debut in 1992. , three Safari Rally triumphs in Kenya, as well as three New Zealand and Wales celebrations . The Scotchman had no "specific" basis: he had no taboo, no gravel, no asphalt, no mud, and the only (almost) unconquered territory was snow.
However, not only these numbers and achievements are the reason why McRae has become a legend for a lifetime, and now in eternity it shines with a special splendor. Both globally and here, Colin was probably the most loved and popular rally driver of all time. He gained fans with his impressive offensive "all or nothing" style, without calculations and tacts . Fearless and "innately" fast-paced, he is considered the naturally most talented driver of his time. He probably knew more about the mechanical side of the sport than rivals, as he was preparing his Talbot Sunbeam, Vauxhall Nova, or Ford Sierra at an early stage of his career.
Being the fastest doesn't mean being the most successful either: direct competitors, Sainz, Makinen and Burns had a more analytical approach and were more "economical", both when it came to racing lines and when it came to crashing cars.
All the same, no one succeeded in succeeding as McRae, the passion of the "ordinary viewer." Rally drew upon millions of people and soon became their inspiration, hero and role model. Fans couldn't get over his absence and there was constant speculation as to which team Colin might go on. Discussions about another chance have now been replaced by sadness and anguish.
Colin McRae celebrated rally sports wherever he was heard. And after the tragic ending, his legacy will live on in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to watch it, on videos and internet clips, and in a very specific way, in the games with the name of this great, great driver.