Picture of the week: WRC 2023 evoking memories of 2001

It was tight at the top of the WRC in 2001, leading to a famous four-way title showdown

Richard Burns Story 1971-2005

Four drivers separated by very little at the top of the World Rally Championship standings. Remind you of anything?

How about 2001 when Colin McRae, Tommi Mäkinen, Richard Burns and Carlos Sainz had a four-way showdown for the title at Rally GB?

It was Burnsie who snatched the title in his sublime Subaru Impreza. And here it is in all its blue-and-yellow glory on the event that set up that dramatic shootout, kicking up the infamous orangey-brown Western Australian gravel.

This image, and millions more sensational shots, are available for you to purchase from Girardo & Co. Archive.

Burns famously only won one event that year, when his Impreza took the honors in New Zealand. His championship charge was built on relentless consistency, with four second places, including on the WRC’s other Antipodean event.

Richard Burns Story 1971-2005

Rally Australia had a touch of controversy around it due to road-order shenanigans, although that had nothing to do with Burns.

On loose gravel rallies, it had become increasingly common for drivers to intentionally lose time so they’d secure a better position on the road for the second and third days.

To avoid this, Rally Australia introduced a new concept whereby drivers could choose their own road position, making their selections in championship order on day one, and based on the rally leaderboard thereafter.

It would have worked perfectly – if McRae wasn’t adjudged to have arrived late for the selection process in Perth on Friday night. Rally Australia clerk of the course Garry Connelly ruled with an iron fist, and the stewards decreed that McRae would open the road for Saturday’s 65 miles.

Burnsie’s ’Reza, as our Aussie friends would say, made hay while the sun shone. He took second behind Marcus Grönholm’s Peugeot while McRae could only manage fifth. It brought Burns to within two points of his Scottish rival in the standings.

Burns, winner of the previous three editions of Rally GB, now knew that WRC 2001 had effectively become a one-round championship. The Subaru star could reflect on a job well done.

Richard Burns Story 1971-2005