Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

He stood above the rest: rally fans bid farewell to McRae

Thousands of people lined the streets of Colin McRae's home town yesterdaycorrect to pay tribute to the tragic rally star.



Fans from around the globe began arriving from early morning to pay respect to Mr McRae (39), who died in a helicopter crash two weeks ago.

The father of two was regarded a hero in the town of Lanark.

His five-year-old son Johnny and family friends Ben Porcelli (6) and Graeme Duncan (37) also died in the crash near Mr McRae's home.

He and his son were cremated together in a single coffin last week.

Today, stars from the motoring world including F1 hero Damon Hill, Mr McRae's co-driver Nicky Grist and Jackie Stewart's sons Paul and Mark gathered for a Celebration of Life service at St Nicholas Church in Lanark High Street.

Dave Richards, the racing mogul who signed Mr McRae when he was younger, said before the service: "This is a very sad day for all of us here in Lanark and for his fans around the world."

He paid tribute to Mr McRae's "spirit" as well as his " flamboyant and aggressive" driving style.

"He stood above the rest," he said.

As colleagues and friends gathered inside the church, footage of Mr McRae and tributes from figures in the rallying world were relayed to the crowd, many of them wearing the light blue of Subaru, the VIA giant.

Teenager Katie Hesketch spoke tearfully about how she had met the popular rally driver on several occasions.

The 17-year-old had travelled up from Manchester with her parents and sister for today's event which saw people flocking to St Nicholas Church and locals hanging out of their windows to watch proceedings as they were televised on big screens up and down the high street.

Katie said: "I've watched Colin McRae since I was three years old. He was just the best rally driver and I think the sport should die with him because things will never be the same.

"I think a lot of people here are very sad. I met him three times and he was just so friendly.

"With Colin there were never four wheels on the floor but he was always in control."

Katie's father Rob Hesketch said: "Colin was different to anyone else in the way he drove. He was a champion and was a huge character."

Police estimated as many as 15,000 people had gathered in the High Street directly outside the church.

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