Richard Burns started driving rally cars at a private school and his first rally came in a borrowed Toyota in 1989. He won
the Peugeot Challenge in his first full season in 1990 and backed that up with another Peugeot win a year later.
In 1992 he claimed the British national title and the big time came calling when Subaru offered him a British Rally Championship contract alongside Alister McRae. Burns beat both the Scot and Ford’s Malcolm Wilson to become the youngest British champion.
He remained with Subaru and learned his craft in the WRC until the end of 1995 but switched to Mitsubishi and claimed his maiden win in Kenya in 1998, followed by a second success in Britain.
Burns returned to Subaru in 1999 and won three rounds that season and a further four in 2000. But Rally GB in 2001 was his crowning glory. Four drivers went to Wales with a shot at the title, but Burns demonstrated the speed and dexterity in tricky conditions to lift the world title.
He moved to Peugeot for the following season and in 2003 headed to a final round showdown in Britain with a shot at his second title. However, he withdrew before the start through illness which was later diagnosed as a brain tumour, and England lost its first world rally champion on 25 November 2005.
Much was made of Burns’ methodical approach to the sport, some claiming his consistency was a stronger asset than his pace. But he was a pioneer in the ways of driving a modern rally car. He took the principles of race driving, adapted them for the stage and won 10 of the 104 WRC rounds he started.