[b]SPOnG's Steve Boxer, a man who likes to race a car himself, was fortunate to interview British motorsport legend, Colin McRae earlier this year. Although the interview itself was supposed to concentrate on the then forthcoming Colin McRae DiRT
, Steve could not help delving into the life and times of McRae himself.
SPOnG is running the following interview in full – including some small mention of the video game – as ours and Steve's tribute to the man who died in such tragic circumstances this weekend.[/b]
Colin McRae is a man who needs no introduction. Petrol-heads among you will know that he was Britain’s most successful rally driver ever, an ex-World Champion whose 25 wins in the WRC set a record for several years, until it was recently overhauled by Sebastan Loeb and Carlos Sainz. He was, simply, one of the greatest rally drivers ever, and one of the most revered British drivers ever.
Apart from his record of wins, his gung-ho, balls-out, on-the-limit driving style helped to propel him to motorsport superstar status. And then there are the games that bears his name: Colin McRae Rally
. Codemasters’ franchise introduced McRae to millions of gamers with no previous knowledge of rallying.
The latest – a hugely successful - Colin McRae DiRT
, reflects the fact that since he actually stopped rally driving professionally, Colin's interest in motorsport did not cease: the game added baja-style racing, hillclimbing and the like. It’s also way the best Colin McRae game ever, with a jaw-dropping level of realism brought about by Codemasters’ shiny new Neon engine.
CMR on PS1
Even away from the WRC (World Rally Championship), McRae was still busy, for example, putting the finishing touches to a custom-designed rally car called the R4, and competing around Europe.
I caught up with McRae – and his dad Jimmy, another rallying legend – at Colin’s house in Lanark in June of 2007, a picturesque, bucolic small town about an hour out of Glasgow. McRae acquired a reputation in his WRC days for being a bit terse, but that must have been a function of his level of focus in those days, as when I meet him, he was utterly charming, very solicitous, honest and self-deprecating. However, this never undermined the perfectionism surfaced that made the man the legend he undoubtedly was. This is what he and his dad had to say.
What are you up to right now?
Obviously, the R4 project is a high priority, as we’ve got to have the car at Goodwood (24-22 June 2007) in two weeks’ time. Obviously, the game is about to be launched, which is quite exciting stuff. We’ve got normal, private business going, which is quite busy, and I’ve just done a cross-country event in Portugal, with a view to doing a deal for Dakar again in 2008. There’s another event in the pipeline in July in Spain, and then some testing in Morocco. It’s busy.
So, you’re going to move more towards the endurance rallying?
It’s something I enjoy. Obviously, the main event is Dakar, and a lot of the events during the year are build-ups and tests for that. But they’re good fun as well – I really enjoyed the event in Portugal.
How did you do in it?
Terrible. We had really bad mechanical problems on the first evening, so we incurred quite a big penalty, but on the Saturday, we were second overall and, on Sunday, quickest overall, so at least the pace was there.