A 1999 Ford Focus WRC, driven by the legendary Colin McRae in four rounds of the World Rally Championship, is being offered for sale by Silverstone Auctions at its Race Retro Competition Car Sale on 23rd February.
McRae, who tragically died in a helicopter accident in 2007, was the youngest and also the first British driver to win the World Rally Championship Drivers’ Title in 1995, making him a household name.
Four years later and McRae joined Ford, who also unveiled a new car for the ’99 season – the Focus WRC.
The model going under the hammer with Silverstone Auctions at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire was driven by McRae with co-driver Nicky Grist at the Rally Catalunya and the Rally Tour De Corse (where it finished fourth), plus the Rally Acropolis and Rally China.
In total it has competed in 11 rounds of the World Rally Championship, being driven by other rally greats including Petter Solberg and Thomas Radstrom.
Adam Rutter, classic car specialist at Silverstone Auctions, said: “Ask anyone to name a rally driver and the first name that comes to mind is invariably Colin McRae. He was always a favourite among rally fans but his incredible success also made him a household name.
“It’s an honour to present this ex-Colin McRae 1999 Ford Focus WRC for sale at our Race Retro Competition Car Sale on 23rd February. The atmosphere at our auction will be electric and it goes without saying that we expect bidding to be flat-out, just like Colin behind the wheel.”
Adam added: “It is very rare for a rally car of this calibre to come to auction. Include the fact it’s been driven by Colin McRae, Petter Solberg and Thomas Radstrom among others, makes it an incredibly important vehicle in motorsport history.”
The World Rally Championship as we know it began in 1973 and consisted of 13 events held in countries around the globe. In its inaugural year, some 20 car manufacturers competed for the Championship, including the Ford Motor Company with their challenger the Escort RS1600, but competition was fierce and Alpine-Renault became the season’s champion.
The marque was represented throughout rest of the 1970s and 80s, not always by the factory, but quite often by private teams such as David Sutton Cars with now legendary drivers like Ari Vatanen at the wheel securing them many successes. After the ‘Group B’ rally era came to an end, Ford was fortunate to secure the driving services of both Malcolm Wilson and Frenchman Francois Delecour and by 1993 were back with a full-factory backed team utilising the talents of the Escort RS Cosworth. From the 1997 season onwards Ford’s WRC programme was run by Malcolm Wilson himself and his well versed M-Sport squad from their base in Cumbria. The Escort RS Cosworth was run for a further two years before Ford was able to debut the Focus WRC in 1999.
Built in utmost secrecy, and codenamed C170, the Focus WRC was based upon the well-engineered road-car, which boasted a 10% stiffer bodyshell than that of its predecessor, the Escort. Housing a new Ford Zetec E 16V turbocharged engine, other areas of the car were also greatly improved making it a compact and nimble contender.
Along with a new car for the ’99 season, Ford had also managed to lure away the 1995 World Rally Champion, Colin McRae, from Subaru at a reported sum of £6 million over two years – making him the highest earning rally driver in history. Always a favourite amongst rally fans due to his ‘if in doubt, flat out’ driving style, McRae won 25 WRC events in his career and in doing so, etched his name into motorsport folklore.
We are pleased to offer this 1999 Ford Focus WRC, chassis ending #68335, which was first registered to M-Sport Ltd. and used by Colin McRae and his co-driver Nicky Grist on the ’99 Rally Catalunya bearing registration ‘S10 FMC’. Unfortunately, the rally ended in retirement for the pairing and the car was used at the next round in France at the Rally Tour De Corse where they were more competitive finishing 4th overall. McRae drove #68335 at two further WRC rounds in the ’99 season namely; Rally Acropolis and Rally China, whilst it was also used by his teammate Thomas Radstrom at the rounds in New Zealand and Australia. For the 2000 season, the car was upgraded and used on two rounds by emerging talent Petter Solberg. In total, the car took part in 11 rounds of the World Rally Championship before it was sold to a private team and used on national events around Europe.
Our vendor was able to purchase this car in 2007 and has used the Focus on many events over the last few years across the UK and Europe, the last of which was the Rallye National de la Lys in France in 2017.
Now wearing registration ‘S32 OTR’ the car will be supplied with a UK V5c and its original FIA ‘Gold Book’ World Rally Car technical passport. At the time of sale, it will be presented in plain white livery allowing the car’s new owner to add its famous ‘Martini’ colours at a later date. Rally cars of this calibre rarely come to market and this unique offering has the advantage of being associated with the late, great Colin McRae.