Jimmy McRae will enter Wales Rally GB next month – and it’s the first time for 10 years that the five-times British Rally Champion has done so. Not that he has been fully retired from motorsport: he still competes in some Scottish Rally Championship events, as well as appearance in the historic Roger Albert Clark Rally.
Jimmy had enormous success in national rallying – he remains the most successful British Rally Championship driver of all time. Having embarked upon his rallying career at the age of 31, a world title was always a distant dream yet, when the chance arose to compete with international drivers, he was always well up the leaderboard.
Despite his own success, he will perhaps always be best know for being the father of WRC champion Colin McRae. In fact, when he was here at the Festival of Speed in 2011, it was Colin’s Subaru Legacy that he drove, rather than any of his own machines.
In period, he drove a variety of cars – perhaps the most memorable being the sideways exploits in an Opel Manta 400 that took him to third place in the 1983 Lombard RAC Rally. And it’s one of the Opel’s relatives, a Vauxhall Firenza, that Jimmy will drive next month.
The historic event shadows the international competition, and is – as you would expect – a crowd-pleaser. How could it fail, with the likes of slippery Ford Escort Mk2s, angular Lancia Stratoses, flame-spitting MG Metro 6R4s and even Porsche 911s following the ruts left by the WRC machinery?