The 2001 World Rally Champion, Richard Burns, has confirmed to the media that he has a brain tumour and will sit out the 2004 season as he receives medical treatment. The Peugeot driver had to withdraw from the Rally of Great Britain and his bid for a second championship title when he fainted and was taken to a hospital in England for further tests.
The first Englishman to win the championship is also known as the "lionheart" - a term that will stand him in great stead as he works toward a full recovery. Burns' condition is known in medical terms as an astrocytoma and the normal treatment for this form of a tumour is radiation. The doctors are confident that the radiotherapy treatment will be successful.
"The doctors have advised that I am unable to get back in a rally car for the 2004 season," stated Burns. "I have to accept that. I'm extremely disappointed which I am sure is obvious, but I feel very positive. I'm determined to focus 100% and more to return to full fitness."
For Burns, this came at the worst time in his career, the WRC driver had just signed a two-year contract to return to the team who helped him attain his first and only WRC title. Burns was to fill the gap at Subaru left by Tommmi Makinen's retirement at the end of the 2003 season. With Subaru's current driver Petter Solberg on the 2004 team, and with Burns back in the fold, Subaru was eyeing the coveted manufacturers' title in 2004.
"We are concerned about this news," expressed Subaru's team principal, David Lapworth. "For now Richard needs to put his own health first, he will always be welcomed at Subaru. The team has offered to do what it can to help Richard back to health and return as one of the leading drivers in the WRC".