20 years since Colin McRae's WRC victory
This November marks 20 years since Colin McRae became World Rally Champion; updated with the 1995 RAC Rally
This Sunday, November 22nd, marks twenty years since Colin McRae became the first ever British driver to win a World Rally Championship title.
While McRae himself is no longer with us, tragically killed along with his son and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, the Scot’s legacy lives on, and he remains one of the most popular drivers ever to take to the stages.
To celebrate two decades since McRae’s WRC success, we’ll post a significant photo from the 1995 season every day this week – a reminder of what made the Scot the rallying star he was, and made his Subaru Impreza 555 one of the all-time rallying icons.
1995 World Rally Champion
Twenty years ago today, Colin McRae became the first Brit to win the World Rally Championship title.
He, along with co-driver Derek Ringer, had just taken victory at the Network Q RAC Rally ahead of chief rival and teammate Carlos Sainz, with new boy Richard Burns taking the third podium spot for a Subaru 1-2-3.
By beating Sainz, McRae had done exactly what he needed to win the world title, following a season in which Sainz had started with much stronger results.
Indeed, Sainz took three wins in 1995, to McRae’s two – but a late-season charge by the Scot, with two wins and two second-place finishes while Sainz suffered a non-start and retirement in New Zealand and Australia, were enough to claw back the deficit to the Spaniard.
In reality, all McRae needed to do was match his 1994 result in the RAC. After 317.3 miles of special stages, but it was far from easy.
Things were looking up after Sainz hit problems at Chatsworth, tearing off his radiator driving through a watersplash at high speed – but in Kielder, McRae suffered a puncture, later damaging his front suspension.. By the end of day two, Sainz led McRae and Mitsubishi driver Kenneth Eriksson.
By day three however, McRae had found his stride, clawing back Sainz’s lead and quickly surpassing him to start day three, while Eriksson left the road in spectacular fashion handing third place to Burns.
On day four, McRae’s dominance continued. Despite a few stage victories for Sainz, the Scot added to his lead, eventually winning by a full 36 seconds. It was enough to seal a comfortable manufacturer’s title for Subaru too, sealing the company’s place in the rallying record books and making an instant legend of the Impreza.
McRae would never win another World Rally Championship. But for a legion of fans worldwide, his 1995 victory will remain one of the sport’s great moments.