Nicky Grist says the time he spent alongside Colin McRae on special stages all over the world were the 'best times of his life' as the Welshman comes to terms with the news that the 1995 WRC champion has died following a helicopter accident close to his Scottish home.

Grist, who also read the notes for Juha Kankkunen during his career, took 17 WRC victories alongside McRae during their time with both Subaru and Ford as the pair struck up one of the most well-known partnerships on the rallying scene.

Although they did split briefly during the 2002 season, they re-united for future WRC events with both Skoda and Citroen and Grist admitted that he was honoured to have sat alongside the Scot.

"I have to say they were the best times of my life," he told icWales. "We used to drive to the max and push everything to the absolute limit. But when it came to socialising we had great fun also.

"Colin was always regarded as being a bit of a risk-taker in cars, but when it came to flying a helicopter he was a totally different man. The one thing he always told me, he said, 'You don't mess about with a helicopter. They are bigger and better than I am and you have to drive them as such'.

"At the end of the day, as co-driver for Colin I felt like one of the chosen few, and it was a great honour - one of the greatest of my life."

Grist added that McRae will be forever remembered as one of the most exciting drivers ever to grace the WRC and said he had no doubt that McRae's son Johnny would have gone on to follow in his father's illustrious footsteps.

"He was one of the most exciting and exhilarating drivers," he said. "He could turn on the extra speed just when it was needed to grab extra seconds to win the rally, and he was also one of the fans' favourites. Whenever we were at a rally you would always see millions of Scottish flags there for him. He was exhilarating to watch and he will be sorely missed.

"Not only is it a tragedy for the sport, but for his wife, who's not only lost a husband, but has lost a son in the accident too. Johnny adored his father and loved everything about cars. I am sure he was the new rally driver for the McRae family."