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  Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 11:09 GMT
McRae bids Ford farewell
Colin McRae kicks up some dust during the Rally Australia
McRae is one of the most exciting drivers in the WRC

This year's Rally of Great Britain marks the end of an era for Colin McRae.

It will be his last rally for Ford, bringing to an end what many would describe as a slightly disappointing four years with the manufacturer.

The Scot joined Ford in 1999 as the world's highest-paid rally driver with the aim of adding to the world championship he won with Subaru in 1995.

But while McRae has become the man with more world championship wins than any other (25), he has failed to deliver that title.


I really want to try and win the rally and leave Ford on a bit of a high
Ex-world champion
Colin McRae
He came closest last year, when he crashed out while leading an event that, had he won, would have made him champion.

Ford subsequently decided not to enter into talks to extend McRae's contract, but if this will be a bitter-sweet parting, the man himself is putting a positive spin on it.

"It's been a very successful four years," McRae said.

"We've achieved a lot of very good results and I'm quite happy that myself and Ford have had a very successful partnership.

"It's a bit frustrating not to have won the world title with Ford and it would have been great to leave with the championship.

"But we've been very, very close and we've had a lot of very good results."

Colin McRae celebrates after another victory
McRae has a record 25 WRC victories

McRae believes that if he had had a bit more luck he would have landed the world title for the Cumbria-based team.

"There are so many different variables in rallying and you have to get it all to click," he said.

"To get it together takes absolutely 100% perfection from everyone in the team and also a wee bit of luck. At the end of the day it just hasn't all clicked for us."

The crash last year effectively handed the title to McRae's arch-rival and fellow Briton Richard Burns.

The Englishman's championship win and his subsequent move to the dominant Peugeot team has led him to claim he is now the faster driver. But McRae is having none of that.

"Peugeot at the moment is the Ferrari of the rally world - it's fair to say the Peugeot's probably got half-a-second a kilometre on us," said McRae.

"Anybody can make the comparison between us if they want, but if you're not on a level playing field then it doesn't mean much.

"I still think I'm driving as quick as ever. If I wasn't happy with my driving and I didn't think I could drive as quick as I used to then I wouldn't be here."

McRae switches next year to the French Citroen team, where a title seems unlikely because it will be their first full world championship season.

McRae has not yet even driven the car, and has no idea how he compare with his new team-mate, the highly-rated French rising star Sebastien Loeb.

But for now, he insists that is far from his mind.

"To win the Rally of Great Britain would be a great way to finish off and that's all I'm thinking about at the moment," he said.

"I really want to try and win the rally and leave Ford on a bit of a high."

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