I remember being mesmerised by these the first time that I saw them in Nicky’s office. It was the same the second time too. Utterly transfixed by twisted metal. The way the bonnet is bent, the boot is creased and the paintwork is scratched and scarred… it’s as good as a thousand word essay describing every gut-wrenching roll and fracturing impact of that championship-ending crash.

These panels really deserve to be in a gallery. Seriously. I’d stake my art history degree on the fact that sculptors the world over would sell their souls to create something that so perfectly depicts both violent movement and still despair. All accented, of course, by the fabulous, glamorous colours of the Martini livery.

Aside from the aesthetics, these also obviously represent a peak of British involvement in the WRC. McRae and Grist battling Burns and Reid. M-Sport fighting Prodrive. All on the Network Q. It was Richard that mentally pushed Colin into the crash. Earlier sections of the stage had been shrouded in fog and Burns was a master of limited-visibility conditions, his detailed pace notes enabling him to take chunks of time out of almost everyone else. McRae knew this. Once out of the fog Colin was pushing hard. Too hard. When Burns passed these very panels at the side of the Rhondda stage he would have known he had one hand on the championship, which is perhaps why he nearly crashed a few corners later.

All this, and more, conjured up by a few very special pieces of mangled metal.


At the time of the incident we were chasing the World Championship and it was just a case of finishing in front of Richard Burns to win the title. We were fastest on the super special stage the night before in Cardiff Bay. The next morning we were fastest on the opening test of the day, beating Burns comfortably. On the next stage we were beaten by Marcus Gronholm, but again finished in front of Burns.

The fateful stage started uphill and by the time we climbed to the level section of the stage, some low clouds moved over this section. We knew we had lost some time on this very section with such bad visibility, so when we exited the fog we set off at the correct pace. Colin was driving really well and was using all the road and carrying as much speed as possible - not easy on a wet loose gravel and mud surface - and after a few miles we entered a very fast section with a series of very fast corners, 6s in Colin’s notes, which was top gear and flat out! The pace notes came out like bullets from a machine gun, such was the speed we were travelling: six right, six left, six right, into five right plus, and six left minus over crest cut. As we entered the five right plus, Colin had set the car in the grass at the edge of the road, slightly cutting the corner. He could have adjusted his line but decided it was good - but it wasn’t! What he could not see in the grass was a hole on the inside with a bank on the other side of it. We slammed into the bank that caused the car to fly up and literally corkscrew through the air. This then set us into a series of rolls. Looking through the windscreen I was seeing sky, trees, ground; sky, trees, ground - over and over again.

We eventually stopped on the right hand side of the road, facing the direction we came from. With steam pouring out of the front of the car and the bonnet crumpled up we knew that was the end of the rally and we were out. Richard Burns still had to finish the event, but with us out of the running his job was much easier. While we did not win the World Championship, we were delighted that a fellow Brit did.

Given its significance to the World Championship title, this was one of the most publicised accidents of its time; and it would turn out to be the last chance we had of winning the WRC, as the remaining years for Colin did not go anywhere near as well. While I have cherished these items as a reminder of that fateful day, I am now offering them to another enthusiast, as a significant piece of rally memorabilia from a very memorable season.


This lot comprises four panels from the original McRae/Grist 2001 Ford Focus RS WRC that crashed on the 26.47km Rhondda stage on 23 November 2001 - comprising both doors, the bonnet, and the boot lid. The panels have not been repaired or even cleaned, so they still bear the damage, and even the Welsh forest mud, from the accident in question.

Please note: these items are not suitable for posting, so the winning bidder will need to organise safe collection and transport of the panels from their storage location in Herefordshire.

The description of this auction lot is, to the best of the seller's knowledge, accurate and not misleading. Collecting Cars requests a range of detail about the lot from the seller, and performs a level of due diligence. However, bidders must satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of the description, and conduct any research they feel is necessary before committing to a bid. Please see our Terms and Conditions for full details.

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    • Lot #03571
    • private Sale
    • Pontrilas, Herefordshire, United Kingdom


    • NGML

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