Rally driving legend and former World Rally Champion, Colin McRae, and his five-year-old son have died in a helicopter crash near his home in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The Squirrel helicopter, owned and piloted by McRae, crashed on Saturday afternoon about a mile from Lanark, and caught fire.

Police have confirmed that all four people on board – 39 year-old Colin McRae, his five-year-old son, Johnny, Ben Porcelli, aged six, and family friend Graeme Duncan – died in the crash.

Around 40 firefighters attended the scene of the crash, which occurred in the woods just north of Lanark soon after 4:00pm on Saturday.

Police commented that the extensive damage to the aircraft had made the initial investigation difficult.

The Air Accidents Invesigation Branch (AAIB) will conduct a full inquiry.

McRae achieved the title of Britain’s first World Rally Champion in 1995, driving for the Subaru team, and was also runner-up in 1996, 1997 and 2001.

His flamboyant style, often confused with recklessness, earnt him a large following with rally fans.

His name was immortalised in a series of rallying video games, and he also competed in various other strands of motorsport, including the Dakar Rally with Nissan.

Speaking on behalf of the whole family, Colin’s father, Jim McRae, made the following statement:

“It is with much sadness and regret that we have to make this statement.

It is unbelievable that Colin and Johnny’s lives have been taken so prematurely and in such a tragic manner.

Colin was a great son, a loving husband to Alison and a fantastic father to Johnny and his big sister Hollie. Johnny was a great wee guy, spending every spare minute with his dad, and even at this early stage it looked like he had the potential to carry on the family dynasty.

Our thoughts are also very much with the families of Ben Porcelli and Graeme Duncan. Ben was a great buddy of Johnny’s and they had always spent a lot of time together both in and out of school. Graeme, who now resides in France, had been a close friend of Colin’s since their schooldays and was back in Lanark on holiday.

We are thankful for the overwhelming number of messages of support we have received from all around the world. Colin was very much an inspiration and role model to motorsport fans the world over.”