Currently reading: Picture special: Colin McRae's career highlights
Britain's first World Rally champion died ten years ago. Check out some of his finest drives

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Colin McRae, who became Britain’s first World Rally champion in 1995.

McRae died on 15 September 2007 aged 39 when the helicopter he was flying crashed near his family home in Lanark, Scotland. McRae’s five-year-old son Johnny and family friends Ben Porcelli, six, and Graeme Duncan, 37, also died in the crash. A fatal accident inquiry ruled McRae was responsible for the accident.

Colin McRae obituary (from 2007)

The Scotsman was revered by rally fans for his committed driving style, which helped him score 25 World Rally Championship wins – and also led to a string of spectacular crashes.

After a rapid rise through the ranks, including British championship titles in 1991 and 1992, McRae broke onto the world stage with the Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team. He claimed his first WRC win in a Subaru Legacy in 1993.

In 1995, McRae won the championship after an acrimonious battle with team-mate Carlos Sainz. McRae, then 27, sealed the title with an incredible victory on the season-ending RAC Rally. He is still the youngest driver to win the championship.

1995 Impreza gb

Celebrating 30 years of Prodrive - picture special

Despite his speed, that would be McRae’s only title success, although a series of wins followed. The Scot switched from Subaru to Ford in 1999, taking the first win in an M-Sport-run Focus WRC on that year’s Safari Rally in Kenya.

1999 Focus wrc safari


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He came closest to a second title in 2001, but ended his season rolling his Focus WRC in the Rally GB season finale. His friend and great rival Richard Burns won the title.

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McRae claimed his 25th and final WRC win on the Safari Rally in 2002 but split with Ford at the end of the year. He joined Citroën for 2003 but claimed a single podium in the Monte Carlo season-opener.

Without a full-time drive for 2004, McRae contested the Dakar Rally with Nissan and the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Prodrive-run Ferrari 550 Maranello, finishing third in the GTS class in the car he shared with Darren Turner and Rickard Rydell.

McRae made a surprise return to the WRC in 2005 with two outings for Skoda. He was on course for an improbable podium in Australia before being slowed by a clutch problem.

McRae’s final WRC outing came in Turkey in 2006, with a one-off drive in a Kronos Racing Citroën Xsara WRC, filling in for the injured Sébastien Loeb.

We’ve picked out some images from McRae’s career. Check them out by flicking through the gallery above.


James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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