THE FORD WRC YEARS
When Colin McRae sensed the end of his
World Rally Championship career might be
nearing, it was no surprise to hear him talk
of the Dakar Rally. Two weeks in the desert
came with his sort of sense of adventure.
But the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Not many
saw that one coming...
“I’ve always fancied it,” he said in early
2004. “I like the endurance element. But
if I do it, it’s got to be done properly.”
It was. For his debut at La Sarthe,
McRae returned to Prodrive. But this
time there wasn’t a Subaru in sight.
Instead, he would share a Ferrari
550-GTS Maranello with Rickard Rydell
and Darren Turner, finishing ninth overall
and an impressive third in GT1.
Turner not only remembers McRae’s
natural speed, but also a refreshing
humility from the world champion.
“Colin helped make 2004 one of my
favorite times at Le Mans,” says Turner.
“I knew who he was, but I’d never met him
before. He was just a completely
down-to-earth bloke who was fantastic at
what he did. He was a lot of fun out of the
car and in the car he was by no means off
A NEW CHALLENGE
the pace at Le Mans. Maybe half a second
to seven-tenths down [per lap], but if he’d
have returned the following year then he
would have improved on that.”
McRae relished the challenge and,
apart from an understandable need to
fine-tune his racecraft, had a ball.
The Scot had hoped for a return to
Le Mans in the future, but died in a
helicopter accident in Sept. 2007.
Colin McRae’s Le Mans one-off showcased a natural aptitude for racing.
Team regular Darren Turner (RIGHT) was
impressed by Colin McRae’s lack of airs
and natural speed in the Prodrive Ferrari.
Carlos [Sainz] coming to me in the middle
of the event and asking me: ‘When is that
car going to break?’ But it didn’t.”
Instead, it won the world’s toughest
rally. A month later, McRae and the Focus
backed that up with a win on one of the
fastest European rounds, Rally Portugal.
Wilson marvels at that as well. “To
come from winning one of the roughest
events to then going out and blowing
everybody away to the tune of 30-odd
seconds in the first three stages in
“You couldn’t take a car as
new as ours and hope to win
[the Safari Rally]. But that
was what we did”
Teamed with Darren
Turner and Rickard
Rydell in a Prodrive
Ferrari, WRC ace
Colin McRae took to
Le Mans like a natural.