Jimmy McRae - Driver Profile

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Jimmy McRae Career Summary

Many rally fans these days will know little about Jimmy McRae. Maybe he is an example that indeed in the old days it was much harder to get to a top WRC drive. Maybe Jimmy just had bad luck and never got the chances he deserved. However there is certainly no doubt that Jimmy McRae had masses of talent. If Colin was such a huge superstar, it is because of Jimmy's genes! 


Unbelievable, but Jimmy won the British Rally Championship no less than 5 times, yet never had a decent chance beyond one-off drives at the WRC. And even in those one-off drives he looked very, very promising indeed, yet even this was not enough. Somehow we are talking of quite an ironic career.


Jimmy got his first big chance at the Vauxhall Chevette UK team as team mate to Pentti Airikkala. Maybe alongside Pentti, Jimmy was the better asphalt driver, while Pentti was more a gravel driver. So when at Vauhall Pentti Airikkala became BRChamp 1979, in 1980 in the same team Jimmy McRae took his 1st of 7 victories on the famous Circuit of Ireland! Jimmy was however as good on gravel. It is some controversy that he won virtually everything there is to win in the BRC, only his very home event, the Scottish Rally, denied him of victory until 1988 in the RWD Ford Sierra Cosworth after some 15 years of trying!


It is also interesting that Jimmy McRae stayed quite loyal to his teams. Getting his first big chance at Vauxhall UK, he stayed with them through the related Opel Ascona/Manta 400 days and only left for MG in 1986, when GM had no car for him. But soon came the groupB ban and already from 1987 he moved on to Ford, driving several versions Sierra until 1990 with the exception of a one-off drive in a Toyota Team GB car and another one-off at Mitsubishi. From 1990 onwoards Jimmy felt he was getting old and rather helped his son Colin. However Jimmy's rally blood never ran out and he was seen occasionally in sometimes strange machinery. He did the Scottish rally 1990 in a normally aspirated, 5-cylinder Audi 90 Quattro, tried an unusual Hyundai Accent(!) F2 car on the RAC 1997, still started the WRC Rally GB in 2004 in a groupA Subaru Impreza 555 and is even today ever again seen in historic cars, mostly a Porsche.  


Jimmy became BRChampion in:

1981, Opel Ascona 400

1982, Opel Ascona 400

1984, Opel Manta 400

1987, Ford Sierra Cosworth

1988, Ford Sierra Cosworth 


This makes Jimmy a record 5-times BRChampion! And that in the days when there was no big questions about Britains next big talent. Jimmy had to compete Roger Clark and Tony Pond, in his later days he had to compete David Llewellin and Mark Lovell, and for some reason throughout his career another huge British talent, Russell Brookes, was a shadow of Jimmy! Shdaow maybe a strange word, as both, Russell and Jimmy are big talents in their own, unique ways. The similarities just seem extraordinary. Russell Brookes was famous for the yellow Andrews sponsored but works Escort RS1800, when Jimmy hit the scene with the Chevette. But curiously Russell drove the Chevette in 1982 & 1983, when in the name of the same team Jimmy moved from the Chevette to the Ascona 400. In 1984 & 1985 Jimmy McRae and Russell Brookes both were driving Opel Manta 400 for the same team, in 1984 Jimmy beat Russell narrowly to the title, in 1985 Russell returned that same favour to Jimmy. And in the late 1980s Jimmy's biggest competition was again Russell Brookes, again in similar cars. This time both were driving Sierras, but if Manta 400 or Sierra Cosworth, Jimmy was driving a red & white one (turn from AC Delco at Opel to R-E-D at Ford) while Russell sported the yellow Andrews colours.


After winning a record 5 BRC title, Jimmy was still slim on his WRC chances. Maybe after winning the 1981 title would have been the best time for a big career. Because Jimmy was still new at the scene, yet he won the BRC 1981, as said his 1st of 5 titles, aged 38!!!!

- Acropolis 1982, Opel Ascona 400 - Jimmy was invited simply to support the regular drivers of the Rothmans Opel team, Walter Röhrl & Henri Toivonen. He did it superbly, finishing 6th overall on his 1st WRC start outside UK!

- RAC 1982, Opel Ascona 400 - It was not the first RAC for Jimmy of course and sadly he retired for a rear axle problem that was none of Jimmy's fault. Until then he played a key role in a massive Opel vs Audi attack, trying to settle the 1982 WRC makes title.

- Acropolis 1983, Opel Manta 400 - 8th place does not sound like much in an event he finished 6th on his first attemtp. But Opel felt the full force of the groupB monsters Audi Quattro and Lancia Rally 037. Indeed, Opel's regular 1983 super star Ari Vatanen himself could not get the Manta 400 higher than 4th on that occasion.

- RAC 1983, Opel Manta 400 - Jimmy manages an amazing 3rd overall on that occasion. The unique Safari Rally aside, this is Opel's best result all season, never mind they had regular drivers of the calibre of Ari Vatanen & Henri Toivonen.

- RAC 1985, Opel Manta 400 - Remember this is the highth of the groupB era. 6th was not only a good result, he beat team mate Russell Brookes so convincingly that the Opel works team publically questioned why for 1986 GM UK kept Russell over Jimmy!

- RAC 1987, Ford Sierra Cosworth - a full private entry with a RWD car on a wet, misty and partly icy RAC Jimmy again comes 3rd, beating 2 works Lancia Delta HF 4WD in the process!

- RAC 1988, Toyota Celica ST165 - Still a pretty new car, first ever event for Toyota Team GB, Jimmy sensationally leads this WRC rally in the first stages, however mechanical problems force him into retirement soon. Strangely this world class drive did not stop Toyota GB signing David Llewellin instead for the following season.

- Acropolis 1989, Mitsubishi Galant VR4 - Jimmy is to try the new rally weapon that Mitsubishi debuted in late 1988 and comes 4th, the best result of this model until that point, even though Jimmy never drove this car before! Strangely again, like TT GB, this was not enough for Mitsubishi giving him further drives. For NZ and RAC Jimmy was back in his private Sierra Cosworth, that with RWD on these rallies by now stood little chance.

Jimmy McRae Career Statistics

Random Jimmy McRae Photos

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Rally Honour Roll

Year Class Place Driver
1989 WRC Group A 66th. Jimmy. McRae (10pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1987 WRC Group A 25th. Jimmy. McRae (12pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1986 WRC Group B 66th. Jimmy. McRae (3pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1985 WRC Group B 66th. Jimmy. McRae (6pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1984 WRC Group B 66th. Jimmy. McRae (3pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1983 WRC Open 66th. Jimmy. McRae (15pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1982 WRC Open 66th. Jimmy. McRae (6pts)

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

Career Results :

Pos Event Co-Driver # Vehicle Rego
17th. 2003 WRC Rally of Great Britain P. Gullick #106 Subaru Impreza  [UNKNOWN]
32nd. 1997 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Arthur #32 Hyundai Accent  [UNKNOWN]
4th. 1989 WRC Acropolis Rally R. Arthur #15 Mitsubishi Galant  [UNKNOWN]
12th. 1989 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Arthur #21 Ford Sierra (Mk1)  [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1987 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #18 Ford Sierra (Mk1)  [UNKNOWN]
8th. 1986 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #15 MG Rover Metro  [UNKNOWN]
6th. 1985 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #14 Opel Manta (B)  [UNKNOWN]
8th. 1984 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Nicholson #4 Opel Manta (B)  [UNKNOWN]
8th. 1983 WRC Acropolis Rally I. Grindrod #9 Opel Manta (B)  [UNKNOWN]
3rd. 1983 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #8 Opel Manta (B)  [UNKNOWN]
6th. 1982 WRC Acropolis Rally I. Grindrod #10 Opel Ascona (B)  [UNKNOWN]
12th. 1979 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Nicholson #30 Vauxhall Chevette HS [UNKNOWN]
12th. 1976 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Muir #42 Vauxhall Magnum  [UNKNOWN]

Career Retirements :

Pos Event Co-Driver # Vehicle Rego Reason
Ret. 2014 IRC Circuit of Ireland . UNKNOWN #0 Vauxhall Magnum 2300 Sport SL [UNKNOWN] SS0 course opening car only
Ret. 2011 IRC RAC MSA Rally . UNKNOWN #0 Subaru Legacy  [UNKNOWN] SS12 suspension
Ret. 2009 IRC RAC MSA Rally . UNKNOWN #0 Ford Sierra (Mk1) Cosworth [UNKNOWN] SS0 only course opening car
Ret. 2004 WRC Rally of Great Britain P. Gullick #74 Subaru Impreza  [UNKNOWN] SS3 transmission
Ret. 1993 WRC Rally of Great Britain C. Wood #33 Volkswagen Golf (3)  [UNKNOWN] SS4 gearbox
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain D. Senior #25 Ford Sierra (Mk1)  [UNKNOWN] SS3 crash
Ret. 1989 WRC Rally New Zealand R. Arthur #5 Ford Sierra (Mk1)  [UNKNOWN] SS18 crash
Ret. 1988 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Arthur #8 Toyota Celica (T160)  [UNKNOWN] SS5 engine
Ret. 1988 WRC Rally New Zealand R. Arthur #2 Ford Sierra (Mk1) XR4x4 [UNKNOWN] SS2 engine
Ret. 1987 WRC Rallye San Remo I. Grindrod #12 Ford Sierra (Mk1)  [UNKNOWN] SS3 head gasket
Ret. 1982 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #11 Opel Ascona (B)  [UNKNOWN] SS42 rear axle
Ret. 1981 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Grindrod #16 Opel Ascona (B)  [UNKNOWN] SS46 driveshaft
Ret. 1980 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Nicholson #18 Vauxhall Chevette HSR [UNKNOWN] SS32 crash
Ret. 1978 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Muir #26 Vauxhall Chevette HS [UNKNOWN] SS32 crash
Ret. 1977 WRC Rally of Great Britain I. Muir #39 Vauxhall Magnum  [UNKNOWN] SS48 clutch

Information may not be complete and should be used as a guide only.

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