Richard Burns dies at 34

Richard Burns, the only Englishman to win the world rally championship, died from the effects of a brain tumour. He was 34.

Burns, the 2001 champion, died Friday after going into a coma, seven months after surgery to remove the tumor.

His last race was in 2003, when he led the championship. On the way to the Rally of Wales, he passed out at the wheel of his car and the resulting examinations diagnosed an astrocytoma, a form of tumour.

From his website:
It is with very great sadness that we must announce the death of Richard Burns, the 2001 FIA World Rally Champion. Burns, who was diagnosed with an astrocytoma, a form of brain tumour, in November 2003 passed away last night Friday 25th November peacefully. His partner Zoe, family and close friends were at his bedside.

From the outset Richard knew that the odds were heavily against him and yet he fought his illness with bravery and good humour. Having undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy he was able to leave hospital in summer 2004. For a while his health showed signs of improvement but then after six months it once again began to decline. Determined not to give up, he opted for surgery earlier this year. This alleviated some of the symptoms of his illness and enabled him to remain active. At Castle Combe in August he attended a parade of the rally cars that he drove throughout his career and was touched by the warmth of the reception he received. However there was to be no miracle and in recent days he lapsed into a coma.

Richard Burns, Age: 34
Born: Reading, Berkshire – 17 January 1971

Burns was a thoughtful driver and provided an interesting counterpoint to the more extrovert progress of his great rival, Colin McRae. While the Scot preferred to simply drive the wheels off his car, Burns would think things through in great detail. His pace notes were remarkable for their complexity and Reid was one of the few co-drivers capable of delivering the information quickly enough to allow Burns to know how each corner should be tackled and what lay beyond the next blind brow.

New Zealand Rally Chairman Morrie Chandler says Burns was always good to his fans, no matter where he was in the world.

He says he made a particular effort in New Zealand, visiting schools and working with children.

Richard Burns won two New Zealand Rally championships.


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