Of course, that style contrasted in almost every way with that of Colin McRae. The World Rally Championship in the late 1990s and early 2000s was a fantastic period for the Brits. Looking through my camera lens, Colin was always Mr Flamboyant and Richard just wasn’t: he had his own way of going fast, just as effective but not always as spectacular.
That head-to-head extended into the media, too, exacerbated because, when out of the car, Colin was spontaneous and spoke his mind. He also used the media pretty effectively to wind up Richard. Deep down, I always felt they were both fundamentally shy individuals and, after a few years of both of them being at the top of their game, actually quite good friends. Any niggle really stemmed from the early years, when Richard’s pace made life tougher for Colin’s brother, Alister, who was also coming up through the ranks. The trouble was that Colin couldn’t help himself, winding up the media for the sake of a good story and winding up Richard in the process. Even I have to admit that Colin had Richard beaten in the media – but on the stages, it was a different story.
Just how well Colin and Richard really got on I saw for myself many times. They would often spend time together away from the sport, and my memories of them at Scottish rally driver Robbie Head’s wedding in South Africa in 2002 are some of the happiest I have. They shared a huge rental house in Cape Town, which became party headquarters for a week before the big day. I would say the McRae brothers partied harder than Richard and his then new love Zoe, but the mutual respect and friendship was clear for all to see.