Former World Rally Champion Colin McRae has died following a helicopter accident close to his Scottish home.

The 39-year-old, who won the WRC crown in 1995 while driving for Subaru, was one of four people to lose their lives in the accident, when McRae's Squirrel aircraft came down in Jerviswood near Lanark just after 1600 BST on Saturday [15 September], so robbing the rallying world of one of its biggest names and most popular figures.

The son of British rallying legend Jimmy McRae, Colin made his debut in the WRC back in 1987 when he steered his Vauxhall Nova to third in class on Rally Sweden and won the Scottish national rally title a year later.

Having continued to make occasional outings on the world stage, McRae was British Rally Champion in both 1991 and 1992 - the latter secured with a clean sweep of six wins from six events.

Both of those victories came with the Subaru team, as a relationship started that would lead McRae to his finest hour.

From his first WRC outing with the team in 1992, when he finished second in Sweden in his Subaru Legacy, McRae was destined to be one of the leading lights on the world rally stage, and a maiden victory in WRC competition duly followed in 1993 in New Zealand - giving McRae the honour of being the first, and only, person to win at WRC level with the Legacy.

For 1994, McRae found himself at the wheel of a car that would quickly become as legendary on the rallying scene as the Scot himself, as Subaru rolled out the Impreza for its first season of competition. Wins in New Zealand and Great Britain were the highlight of the season and the Scot then took victory on the same two events during the 1995 campaign - although the ultimate prize at the end of the year was much greater as he became the first Briton to lift the WRC title.

In both 1996 and 1997, McRae finished second in the standings, but after finishing the 1998 campaign in third place he elected to seek a new challenge and switched to Ford - who were introducing the new Focus WRC for the 1999 season.

McRae gave the Focus its first win on the famous Safari Rally in Kenya and also won in Portugal en route to sixth in the championship standings and remained with the Blue Oval through to the end of 2002, the season in which he secured what would be his 25th and final WRC win - at that time putting him top of the all-time winners list.

After a season with Citroen in 2003, McRae found himself without a seat for 2004 thanks to change in regulations that saw teams only able to score points with two drivers. However, McRae simply turned his focus to other forms of racing, with an appearance in both the Dakar Rally and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Returning to the Dakar in 2005, McRae was leading for Nissan when he was forced to retire following an accident but made a return to the WRC later in the year as he was given the chance to compete on Wales Rally GB and in Australia for Skoda.

A seventh place finish on home soil was overshadowed by the death of popular co-driver Michael Park in an accident on the final day, but in Australia, McRae showed that his absence from the WRC hadn't affected his speed as he looked set to take the un-fancied Fabia to the podium before a clutch issue forced him to retire just three stages from the finish.

There would be just one more WRC outing for McRae when he was called up by the Kronos Citroen team to replace the injured Sebastien Loeb in Turkey last year, while the Scot also made numerous outings with his MkII Escort on national events as he sought the chance to return to a full time drive.

Away from the special stages, McRae was busy developing his own car - the R4 - and had also picked up a whole new array of fans from the computer games that bore his name.

But it is his all-action driving on the stages for which McRae will be forever remembered as one of the top drivers ever to appear in the WRC.

All at Crash.net join the entire rallying community in extending our sympathies to Colin's family and friends and those of the other victims at this difficult time.