Track star Marino Franchitti has hailed his friend and lost rallying superstar Colin McRae after an emotional drive in his old car.
Racing driver Franchitti has teamed up with TV Salvage Hunters star Drew Pritchard and live motorsport broadcaster Andy Jaye to find the greatest racing car of all time in TV series Three Men Four Wheels. Franchitti – younger brother of race ace Dario – revealed how taking the wheel of the Subaru Impreza 555 driven by his late, great, World Rally Champion mate McRae, almost stopped him in his tracks.
McRae died when the helicopter he was flying crashed in 2007, near Lanark, close to his family home. His five-year-old-son Johnny, his school friend Ben Porcelli, six, and 37-year-old Graeme Duncan also lost their lives in the tragedy.
Franchitti said: “It was hugely emotional, seeing the car first of all then showing the boys. Then, once I started driving the car, it was just a joy. Probably the hardest bit was doing the voice-over, talking about Colin. That I found difficult but to be able to get that experience is not something I ever thought I would get the chance to do.”
Franchitti – a former racer turned development driver with Singer Vehicle Design – said: “There is no doubt that Colin was and remains the most famous rally driver of all time. More importantly for me was he was a friend. He was especially close to my brother. He was Scottish and in 1995 became the first British World Rally Champion.
“He is unfortunately no longer with us. So for me to get the opportunity to drive the car he drove in 1996 as world champion and won the Catalunya rally with, the car with the No 1 plate on it, was a dream come true. It was nerve-wracking and emotional but wonderful. I tried to soak up every second of it.”
The famous Subaru was sold for a record £230,000 at auction three years ago and remains a special car for petrol heads.
Marino said: “When I think of a Subaru, I think of that blue Subaru with gold writing on it and Colin behind the wheel. If it was any other Subaru it would be very impressive; but because it was Colin’s Subaru and because it is so iconic, that for me is what makes it even more special.”
The presenter – whose wife Holly races historic cars at Goodwood where their seven-year-old son Luca also races his pedal car – said: “Colin was an inspiration. I think of Colin and I smile. I think of the lunches we had, the nights out we had, the fun and games we had with other vehicles.
“He was incredibly charismatic and completely unchanged by fame and wealth. My brother and him were closer than Colin and I were, but to see that and be part of that, and have fun together was special. The memories of him are incredibly special. He was a huge loss. He is so missed by everybody.”
Lockdown sucks, but we’ve got something happy for you to enjoy. https://t.co/5G7BXFfsuX
— Marino Franchitti (@MFranchitti) January 7, 2021
Throughout the new series – filmed under strict safety guidelines and in between Covid-induced lockdowns – the trio will come up their own “greatest hits” list of the world’s finest motors ever to grace a racetrack.
Available to stream on discovery+
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