Why the fearless WRC driver, Colin McRae, was unbeatable in his heydays

Following in his dad’s footsteps, McRae became a rookie in WRC & was given a seat in the Subaru-Prodrive team partnered with Ari Vatanen.

BHPian Saadath Hussain recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

To be honest, I have no interest in penning McRae’s biography in this thread. It is more of how McRae had the ability to get up to speed and become indomitable.

1000 Lakes Rally, Finland. McRae, following in his father Jimmy’s footsteps, became a rookie in WRC and was given a seat in the fledgling Subaru-Prodrive team partnered with Ari Vatanen. Though he was subject to umpteen mistakes in the stages, he had begun attracting many owing to his tenacious attitude even after rolling and battering to a huge extent.

Flashforward to the 1995 RAC rally. It was McRae’s home turf and he was equal on points with his then-teammate Carlos Sainz sr. Both the drivers were left with no heavyweight opposition due to Toyota’s ostracism for using illegal Turbo restrictors. Now, McRae definitely had to finish ahead of Carlos in order to clinch the top prize and what followed was an exhilarating display of tenacity and raw speed.

McRae had picked up a few punctures on day 2 and thus had his lead cut significantly by Carlos. Then came an impediment with the front suspension which was quickly fixed thanks to McRae’s proficient repairing skills. By now, Carlos had taken the lead and McRae had to go flat-out which he did with a vengeance (Courtesy of the preceding Rally Catalunya). Battling light showers, fog and slush, McRae finally bagged the title with Carlos relegated to P2.

Argentina, 1998. McRae’s Subaru Impreza was in a bit of a struggle for the title bid and the flying Scot needed a good result in order to stay in touch with the title. The right rear suspension rod had been relinquished. It was here that McRae and his co-driver Nicky Grist’s innovative idea came to the fore. Since the rear right tyre could not be detached, they took some risk by way of causing the tyre to explode through some quick driving (wear and tear). It now became easy for both to remove the remnants of the tyre rubber and unscrew the suspension rod. They placed the rod on a flat rock and had it trampled repeatedly so as to straighten it up. They fixed it back and won the next stage.

I had been of the opinion that Sainz was a great driver in the wet conditions. Truly, he was. But, in the 1998 Tour de Course rally, McRae, against mighty odds, won on wet asphalt amidst heavy advances from Sainz’s Toyota Corolla and Delecour’s Peugeot 306 maxi which was heavily favoured to win on tarmac surfaces that season.

McRae had even won the 1999 Safari rally without taking a single-stage win. It was not all guns and glory for him but at times, he was shrewd enough when to go flat-out or drive with consistency.

Here’s what BHPian Rehaan had to say about the matter:

Watched a few videos about McRae a month ago, that really showed how the man was untameable.

Flat-out all the time, absolutely no holding back or hesitation.

  • Video 1
  • Video 2
  • Video 3

Here’s what BHPian megazoid had to say about the matter:

I can only opine that he was flamboyant and an extremely gutsy driver. Amazing talent indeed. The only flip side was that he didn’t look like lasting the distance with respect to an assault. With his talent, he should certainly have taken at least two more WRC titles but the man was his own enemy. So as long as he lasted, he was a treat to watch.

Another interesting thing to note is the WRC cars and driving style changed significantly close to Colin’s last driving years and the beginning of the Loeb era. The clinical nature of the attack wasn’t his strength, perhaps.


This kind of sums up the man. What a driver!

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