WRC

Linford Christie rides shotgun to Richard Burns

After recently experiencing speeds in excess of 1,000mph in the back seat of a Royal Air Force Tornado, Subaru World Rally Team's Richard Burns had the opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of speed to one of the world's undisputed track and...

After recently experiencing speeds in excess of 1,000mph in the back seat of a Royal Air Force Tornado, Subaru World Rally Team's Richard Burns had the opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of speed to one of the world's undisputed track and field legends, Linford Christie.

Former World and Olympic 100m Champion, Christie, joined the Subaru team during their pre-season preparations in Clelles, 50km south of Grenoble in the French Alps, in the run-up to this weekend's Rallye Monte Carlo. The highlight of his visit was a ride with Burns in the new Impreza WRC2001 that the British rally ace will debut at tomorrow's start to the 2001 World Rally Championship.

The sprinter confessed to being somewhat nervous after being shown the narrow twisting 8km asphalt stage - in places only 10ft wide - that wound its way down a mountainside before crossing a narrow bridge and climbing up the other side of the valley.

"I was a bit apprehensive before we started because I have never been in a rally car before," said Christie before being strapped into the car for a 16km white knuckle ride.

After touching speeds of 130kph on the sinuous test road bordered only by a sheer drop of thousands of feet, Christie confessed to being amazed by Burn's skill. "Although you are travelling so fast with big drops below, I quickly realised how good Richard is - the guy is something else," said the sprinter.

Burns was similarly impressed with his passenger. "I think he covered his eyes once, but he was really enjoying himself, and it was a great privilege to show someone of his immense reputation what my sport is all about," said Burns.

Burns, who has scored two second places in the World Rally Championship in the past two seasons, will settle for nothing less than the world title this year. A completely new Impreza World Rally Car is expected to give the young Briton the edge to mount his title bid right from the beginning of the season which begins in earnest tomorrow at 0700hrs (local) from Monte Carlo.

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Series WRC
Drivers Richard Burns