PH Blog: whence the next McRae?

It was an hour of beautiful, sympathetic and well-researched television. Racing Legends: Colin McRae was finally aired last night, and proved itself well worth waiting for.

But for me, it wasn't just the inevitability that the story would end with McRae's untimely passing that brought an air of sadness to proceedings. It was also the realisation that since McRae - and, indeed, Richard Burns, on whom the documentary also touched fleetingly - there's been a notable absence of great British rally drivers.

I find that surprising. Here were two of the UK's greatest on the slippy stuff; men who rose to the pinnacle of the sport within just a few years of each other. The result was rally fever; the WRC, and WRC-inspired cars, achieved levels of popularity hitherto unknown in the UK. And yet, it seems that passion failed to draw in a new breed of rally drivers to represent Britain in the sport.

In Formula 1, the successes of Hunt, Mansell and then Hill together inspired a new generation of British drivers - today, Button and Hamilton are at the top of their game, while Di Resta and Chilton are coming through as potential successors. So where are the budding young rallyists inspired first by McRae and then by Burns?

Perhaps the lack of rallying on our TVs that we all love to moan and chafe about is an inevitable result of this course. Perhaps a lack of Brits in the sport was always going to turn off those audience members who aren't hardcore rallying fans. And therefore, perhaps we should be working harder to inspire young people to try rallying.

So what can we do about it? Well, for starters, we need to acknowledge the problem and open the discussion as to how to solve it. We should also be looking to the MSA, organisers of the British Rally Championship, to develop academy-style programmes and series that might seek to bring through young rally stars, to actively search for notable talent and to nurture and develop it. And finally, we should all continue to celebrate the glory years of McRae and Burns, handing down the story of British rallying's glory days to the next generation, in the hope that we can inspire them to follow in the footsteps of rallying's British greats. Perhaps that way, one day, they won't be the only stories we'll have left to tell.


Comments (99) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Simon Moss 11 Feb 2013

    Obviously I am a little biased being the British Rally Championship press officer, but we have tried to address the issues of cost and competitiveness. It has never been cheaper to win the BRC. As an example the budget for the 2012 champion Keith Cronin was around £70k. Back in 2002, it cost Peugeot Sport £850k to run two 206 Super 1600 cars.

    Sadly the 4WD days are gone. Subaru will not sell the new Impreza in the UK and Mitsubishi will not make an Evo 11 so group N is dead. S2000 and WRC cars are unsustainable in National championships at £300k ish. Hence the decision to move to production-based 2WD cars.

    I think the results are quite good.

    We have also provided the training ground for future world champions. And although the step up to WRC is massive (not our doing), Craig Breen and Elfyn Evans are both World Champions (WRC Academy), as is Louise Cook (PWRC).

    Judge for yourselves:

    Who says front wheel drive cars don't go sideways..?

    Edited by Simon Moss on Monday 11th February 16:55

    Edited by Simon Moss on Monday 11th February 16:59

  • JamesHayward 31 Jan 2013

    I think what would revive rallying is to go back to the Group A days. Colin McRae's World Championship winning Impreza visually looked identical to the same car your dad drove. Yes it was different underneath but visually that's what mattered. Same with the Evo and Escort Cosworth, all identical appearance to their road counterparts.

    I think this would help both manufacturers and the WRC alike. I can guarantee that most Impreza 2000 Turbo's were sold on the back of their WRC program. I know for sure that's why my old man had one.

    The modern day Fiesta / Polo / DS3 don't excite me as they look NOTHING like their road going counterparts. You can't buy a turbocharged 4WD version of any of those cars.

    Things need to change. /rant over

  • jreddihough 31 Jan 2013

    the tv coverage is non existent

  • Robbie K 30 Jan 2013

    Louise Cook is repping for the UK in the WRC, just at a lower level due to the funding issues.
    Support Cookie!

  • lee st 29 Jan 2013

    mackeye said:
    truly amazing lurking. well done smile

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