Sunday | 27 Nov 2022

WRC's 50 Greatest Moments: Burns triumphs in Battle of Britain

It was a four-way race for the 2001 WRC driver’s title come the year-ending Rally of Great Britain.

Before the Cardiff-based fixture, Ford’s Colin McRae sat on 42 points, then Mitsubishi’s Tommi Mäkinen with 41, Subaru star Richard Burns on 40 and McRae’s team-mate, Carlos Sainz, an outside bet on 33.

Mäkinen was first to go. Only 18th fastest after the Thursday night super special in Wales, he failed to complete Friday morning’s opening St Gwynno test after suspension failure and a lost wheel on his Lancer.

One man who most definitely did make it through the 14km stage was McRae. He was spectacular and fast, building a 2.9sec advantage at the top of the timesheets. That lead was trimmed through the next stage, so the Scot redoubled his efforts for Rhondda, the final stage in the loop.

Richard Burns - The Making of a Champion

All was going well until he failed to hear the crucial words ‘don’t’ and ‘cut’ from co-driver Nicky Grist. McRae threw the Focus WRC 01 into a right-hander, where the right-front wheel dipped into a ditch and pitched the car into a massive rally – and season – ending roll.

With Sainz retiring on Saturday morning, the title was Burns’ to lose. He and now FIA deputy president Robert Reid held everything together for an exceptionally nervy couple of days before being crowned as the best in the world.

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