Friday | 25 Nov 2022

WRC's 50 Greatest Moments: McRae’s Argentina magic

Back in the 1990s the WRC was a different place. It was a time and a place which served Colin McRae very, very well.

Hurtling over a crest in Mina Clavero on the 1998 Rally Argentina, a huge bang sent shockwaves through the cockpit of McRae's Subaru Impreza S5 WRC. 

"What was that?!" a bemused Nicky Grist called over the intercom. 

"A big rock in the road," came McRae's calm reply, his steering wheel now heavily pitched to the right as the car crabbed along the gravel.

Emerging from the stage with the Subaru's rear right wheel pointing awkwardly inwards, McRae had a job to do. There were still two stages to run before service and he knew he'd haemorrhage time continuing like this.

The first job - removing the wheel - proved to be an almighty task in itself. It was lodged firmly into the arch. 

‘No problem,’ thought McRae as he set off along the highway, wheel dragging and television crews hot in pursuit. 

This was a deliberate attempt to pop the tyre and, just a few-hundred metres down the road, it worked - leaving the Scotsman with enough clearance to take off the wheel before moving on to the next task. 

The cause of the Subaru’s extreme geometry soon became apparent: a bent track control arm. McRae hammered away at it in an attempt to straighten the solid metal part but, try as he might, the car had other ideas.

Colin McRae: 25 Years A Champion

At this point, most top-level drivers would have given in and radioed the team to announce their retirement. But not Colin. 

He and Grist removed the guilty suspension link from the car then set about smashing it straight with a huge rock they’d found at the roadside. This approach, as agricultural as it was, worked wonders. 

The part was refitted and, just minutes later, the Impreza was flying to the fastest time on El Condor. 

This incident cost McRae and Grist 2min 30sec in lateness penalties. They finished the rally fifth overall, only 1min 17.6sec back from winning driver Tommi Mäkinen…

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