The day I said goodbye to Richard Burns

Saturday, October 8th, 2016 - autos

Source : The day I said goodbye to Richard Burns

This particular’s not often which a top rally driver asks the journalist for an interview – although which’s what happened on the last day our man saw the 2001 World Champion


This particular will be, as my colleague Matt Burt put This particular earlier today, a poignant time of the year for rally fans, as we remember not only the entire world titles of Colin McRae along with Richard Burns although 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 inside 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. This particular was Claire Caudwell coming from the CSS management firm which represented Richard Burns, calling to inform me which her man would likely “like a chat”.

Calls like This particular 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, This particular’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 – along with not just coming from 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?”

today This particular made a little more sense. Burnsie had been, frankly, pretty poor during the most recent round of the series, running inside bottom half of the top 10 before crashing out without much of an explanation on the final day. This particular 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 along with 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 along with his girlfriend watching TV inside background, he was in relaxed mode, although the steely determination along with 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 inside Welsh forests – especially if This particular 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 This particular was time to head back to the office to write up the story – along with time for me to impart one little piece of news of my own to Richard. Autosport was about to take me off the entire world rally circuit, as This particular turned out, along with bump me coming from deputy editor to editor – promotion, if you want to call This particular 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 coming from the others inside room. “You won’t be wanting to speak to us for much longer, then; you’ll be loving This particular up with the F1 lot.”

I assured him This particular wouldn’t be the case. He smiled again, shook my hand, along with closed the door.

along with which was the last time I’d see him. My memories of half a dozen years reporting on WRC come along with go – great action, great characters, great moments – although 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 would likely 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 would likely go to Petter Solberg after a thrilling fight with Sébastien Loeb – although This particular would likely be a week or two before the gravity of Richard’s situation would likely emerge.

Burnsie fought like hell, although within two years he was gone. He was a consummate professional, a hell of a driver along with, 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 along with illness. You can access This particular at, along with watch a moving video tribute to the man below.

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