Though he will sadly not be present at the Race of Champions this year - at least not in person - Colin McRae will still be a guiding light for Team Scotland, as his brother Alister and Formula 1 star David Coulthard get ready to do battle in his memory.

Coulthard first participated in the end-of-season spectacular back in 2005, and he admitted the diverse range of machinery in which the drivers take to the track - this year to include a Ford Focus RS WRC '07, Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24, Solution F Touring Cup, FIAT Grande Punto S2000 Abarth and special Race of Champions buggy - initially took some getting used to.

"Colin had to show me how to deal with all these different cars," the Red Bull Racing ace recounted. "I can hear his voice in my mind - 'Come on DC, get yer finger out' - because the first year I wasn't quite living up to the pace he was setting in these cars, but with a bit of encouragement and advice I got better at it."

Indeed, whilst Coulthard acknowledged the on-track competition would be fierce, he was keen to stress one of the most pleasurable aspects about the Race of Champions - which has previously been held in Paris, Gran Canaria, Barcelona, Madrid and at the Nurburgring before making its way to Britain for the first time in 2007 in the hallowed Wembley Stadium - was the part of the event that went on away from the track.

"One of the most exciting things about the Race of Champions - and before you get me wrong let me explain this - is the fact everyone hangs out in the same changing room," the 36-year-old joked. "There's a real sense of camaraderie going on.

"Colin and I obviously took the competition very seriously on-track, but outside of our normal racing season we also took the opportunity to maximise the social opportunities the Race of Champions had to offer in Paris. We were never first in bed, and beat all nations to the bar!

"It really is a wonderful event, with something for everyone irrespective of whether you are a hardcore motorsport fan or not. It's all about the opportunity to share experiences with all these great drivers from different disciplines - I started my career as a young lad in Scotland wanting to race against drivers from all over the world."

Reflecting on the fact he will be partnered by a different member of Scotland's foremost rallying family this time around, 'DC' admitted Colin's absence would be keenly felt, and spoke warmly about a man who, though he may never have been a rival, was never less than a friend.

"It's obviously extremely sad he's not able to compete this year," he added, "but I'm very proud to be able to race alongside Alister and uphold the family name

"As everyone who has had the opportunity to come across Colin knows, he was just a tremendous character, full of energy and sadly missed as a friend. So many people across the board - not just in rallying - think it's remarkable that a wee lad from a small town in Scotland could have had such an impact on the world of motorsport."

 

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