Thu 02 Mar 2023

On this day: Burns' first WRC win

They’d come close – horribly close on their home WRC round – just three months earlier, but on Monday March 2, 1998 Richard Burns and Robert Reid finally stood on top of the world.

Twenty-five years ago today, the Brits won the Safari Rally by 10 minutes from Juha Kankkunen.

And it was a victory typical of Burns’ approach as a driver: fast, strategic and methodical. Admittedly, it was only his third start in Kenya, but Burns had been around enough Safaris to understand what was needed and his second place on the previous year’s event marked him out very much as a contender in ’98.

In the fight from the outset, Burns and Reid found themselves sitting atop a 10-minute lead when engine problems hit his Mitsubishi team-mate Tommi Mäkinen and the works Subarus of Colin McRae and Piero Liatti.

Despite a handsome advantage, there was a final-day scare when the bottom of the Carisma GT bounced off a rock with a little too much verve, damaging the sump. Andrew Cowan’s well-drilled Ralliart team set themselves a new record for changing the part and Burns lead the field to the finish.

As the new millennium neared, Richard became something of a Safari master: second in 1997, a win in 1998, retiring from the lead in 1999 and winning in 2000.

One year on – in 2001 – he and Reid were world champions with Subaru.

But that first WRC rally win was one that wouldn’t be forgotten. Not by Burns or Reid – and certainly not by Ralliart Mitsubishi men Phil Short, Derek Dauncey and Roger Mortimer, all of whom were robbed of their moustaches in the traditional post-event swimming pool party.

WATCH: Richard Burns claims maiden victory at 1998 Safari Rally Kenya
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
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