As I write this, the 2018 WRC season has just kicked off in Monaco, with drivers leaving service it is time to switch on the anti-lag, and bolt on the lightpods. As it is a weekend of rallying, it seems only right to keep the blog on a rallying theme too!
This is chassis number 26 off the production lines from Prodrive UK, and is one of Subaru Japan’s crown jewels in the Mitaka showroom.
Straight out of the ’98 championship, this car retains all the wear and tear from the two rounds that it competed in throughout the season. After Corsica, Colin drove the car in the Network Q Rally of Great Britain before it was retired from active duty.
I was brought up on rallying, and if you ask me what discipline has the most talented drivers my answer is simple – rallying. 1998 was the first year I saw Tommi Makinen & Colin McRae live , and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Standing on the inside of a 5th gear corner as they slid past all locked up, before flicking the cars into a 90 right and over a one-way narrow bridge left my jaw sitting on the ground. I remember I was so close that I could see the whites of Colin’s eyes as he went past.
Just like the ’98 Rally of New Zealand jaw-dropping experience, this 20-year old technology still has fistfuls of ‘wow factor’. I remember watching Sanremo on TV in ’98, and now here the exact car was sitting in front of me. I could almost hear Nicky Grist firing off the pacenotes as I was looking into the cabin.
The only thing missing from the cockpit was the helmets slung in the net, and Nicky’s pacenotes in the door…
For many rallying fans, the close visual appearance this car holds to a road-going 22b makes the sport personable, but once you lift the bonnet the difference is clear to see. The same 2212cc flat-four base now pumps out 224kW at 5500rpm and 480Nm or torque at 4000rpm, and while that isn’t overly powerful in today’s motorsport terms, this car was second to none on the twisty tarmac.
The ’90s era of rallying was a special one, we had Subaru, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Peugeot, Skoda, Hyundai and Seat with a raft of iconic names behind the wheel. The distinctive yellow and blue on gold is iconic enough, but with the ‘McRae’ name on the side window, well that just makes it unforgettable. Once in the blue moon you get an indivudual who truly defines their sport, Colin McRae was absolutely that person. In the words of Nicky Grist – “I was fortunate to rally with probably the one person that above all else will be the most famous rally driver the world has ever seen”.