In 2001 Richard Burns became the first Englishman to win the World Rally Championship. In November 2003, Burns was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering a blackout and, on November 25 2005, 4 years to the day after winning the World Rally Championship, he died.
Born in Reading, Berkshire, England, Burns started driving in a field near his house at the tender age of eight, in his father's old Triumph 2000. At eleven Richard joined an under-17's car club, where he became driver of the year in 1984. Just two years later his father arranged a trip to Jan Churchill's Welsh Forest Rally School near Newtown, Powys where Richard drove a Ford Escort for the day, and from that moment on Richard knew what he wanted to do. He badgered his father into letting him join the Craven Motor Club in his home town Reading where his talent was spotted by rally raconteur and enthusiast David Williams and where he rallied the stages of Panaround, Bagshot, Mid-Wales, Millbrook, Severn Valley, Kayel Graphics and Cambrian Rally.
In 1990 he joined the Peugeot Challenge after David Williams bought Richard a Peugeot 205 GTI and where he got his first taste of a World Rally Championship event in Great Britain.
In 1993 he joined the Subaru Rally Team for the British Rally Championship alongside Alister McRae where he won four rallies on the Vauxhall Sport, Pirelli, Scottish, and Manx International stages, Richard became the youngest British Champion that year.
In 1998 he won his first ever World Rally Championship event on the treacherous stages of the Safari Rally when he drove his Mitsubishi Carisma GT to 1st place.
On Sunday November 25, 2001 Richard Burns became the first Englishman to win the World Rally Championship. Richard drove his Subaru Impreza to 3rd place in the Rally Of Great Britain. When Richard passed the finishing line at the final stage of the final rally in 2001 the famous words popped out of Richard's mouth "We're the best in the world". Subaru produced a special edition of the Subaru Impreza in the UK called the RB5.
In November 2003, Burns was diagnosed with an astrocytoma, a type of brain tumour after suffering a blackout while driving to the Wales Rally GB. He underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and underwent surgery in April 2005 that was described as "very successful".
Late on Friday, November 25, 2005, 4 years to the day after winning the World Rally Championship, Burns died, after having been in a coma for some days.