The day I said goodbye to Richard Burns
Source : The day I said goodbye to Richard Burns
which’s not often which a top rally driver asks the journalist for an interview – yet which’s what happened on the last day our man saw the 2001 World Champion
which can be, as my colleague Matt Burt put which earlier today, a poignant time of the year for rally fans, as we remember not only the entire world titles of Colin McRae as well as Richard Burns yet also, sadly, the death of the Englishman through a brain tumour precisely four years to the day after he claimed the sport’s top prize.
My own thoughts fly back to a quiet Monday afternoon within the office of weekly motorsport title Autosport in late 2003. I was pretty much done piecing together the rally news for which week’s issue when the phone rang. which was Claire Caudwell by the CSS management firm which represented Richard Burns, calling to inform me which her man could “like a chat”.
Calls like This specific are not received lightly. More than their F1 counterparts, rally journalists rely on direct access to the drivers (I once befuddled Autosport’s F1 man by informing him which I had all of the top drivers’ mobile numbers; he didn’t even have Michael Schumacher’s PA’s number). So when a top man like Richard calls you in for an audience, which’s normally to deliver a dressing down for mis-quoting him or getting a fact wrong in a report. I’d had my fair share of chewings – as well as not just by Burnsie.
Still, the request for an interview was slightly odd. “He wants to go over Rally Catalunya,” said Claire. “Can you come to his place in London, say, tomorrow morning?”
right now which made a little more sense. Burnsie had been, frankly, pretty poor during the most recent round of the series, running within the bottom half of the top 10 before crashing out without much of an explanation on the final day. which was a stark contrast with his drive on the same event 12 months earlier, when he’d kept Peugeot’s renowned asphalt specialist Gilles Panizzi very honest throughout the three days. Richard’s time with Peugeot Sport was coming to an end as well as while he was still one of four drivers who could go into the final round of the WRC, Rally GB, which has a shot at the title, he clearly wanted to reassert himself after an unusually poor run in Spain.
So at some ungodly hour of the following day, I moseyed up to a smart, spacious apartment in Maida Vale to meet Richard. With Claire as well as his girlfriend watching TV within the background, he was in relaxed mode, yet the steely determination as well as focus which I’d see so often was plain to see.
No, he did not have an explanation yet for why Catalunya had gone so badly. Yes, he was confident which switching back to Subaru to replace the retiring Tommi Mäkinen for the 2004 season was the right move. Yes, he was confident of a not bad display within the Welsh forests – especially if which happened to be foggy (for all his incredible natural ability, Colin McRae could never match his local rival when visibility dropped to a few yards).
After an hour or so which was time to head back to the office to write up the story – as well as time for me to impart one modest piece of news of my own to Richard. Autosport was about to take me off the entire world rally circuit, as which turned out, as well as bump me by deputy editor to editor – promotion, if you want to call which which.
Richard smiled at the news; then he reached across to tap me solidly on the head. “Big chief editor, eh? Check out the brain on John Mac,” he japed, to giggles by the others within the room. “You won’t be wanting to speak to us for much longer, then; you’ll be loving which up with the F1 lot.”
I assured him This specific wouldn’t be the case. He smiled again, shook my hand, as well as closed the door.
as well as which was the last time I’d see him. My memories of half a dozen years reporting on WRC come as well as go – great action, great characters, great moments – yet for all sorts of reasons, those few seconds are burned into my soul.
The following week I was piecing together the rally pages for Autosport once more when word reached us which Richard could not, after all, be part of the four-way title fight on Rally GB, after being taken ill during the pre-event reconnaissance. The crown could go to Petter Solberg after a thrilling fight with Sébastien Loeb – yet which could be a week or two before the gravity of Richard’s situation could emerge.
Burnsie fought like hell, yet within two years he was gone. He was a consummate professional, a hell of a driver as well as, above all, a thoroughly decent human being. I miss him still.
A foundation set up in Richard’s name continues to do not bad work for those facing neurological injury as well as illness. You can access which at http://ift.tt/ZGTSdC, as well as watch a moving video tribute to the man below.
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