Five-time WRC winner Markko Martin has been appointed patron of the Richard Burns Foundation, the charity established in honour of the 2001 World Rally Champion.
The Richard Burns Foundation aim to help people, particularly young people, who are in a situation similar to Richard's by providing them with inspiration through his example and the means to face the future with confidence.
Martin's status as patron is entirely fitting – the two were close rivals on the stages and closer friends away from rallies.
“When Richard became ill it was completely stupid,” Martin said. “He was the fittest guy in the championship and yet he had this happen to him. Richard had good support around him, but not everybody has the same – that's why I want to become a patron of the Richard Burns Foundation: to do what I can to help those who don't have access to the same help Richard did.
“When I first met Richard, he and his co-driver Robert Reid were good friends with my co-driver 'Beef' [Michael Park]. I didn't really know them so well and was, a little bit, the guy on the outside, not really understanding the jokes. That soon changed though and we all became good friends. We would eat dinner together during the rally and spend time together during events. It was quite strange, during things like the recce the teams would usually drive together through the stages, but 'Beef' and I would go around with Richard and Robert. They were driving for Peugeot and we were with Ford, we were bringing the teams closer together!
“Of course, I was also in the car with Richard when his illness became more apparent on the way to Cardiff in 2003. Losing somebody like Richard, at such a young age, doesn't make sense and we have to do all we can to help others in a similar situation.”
The Richard Burns Foundation incorporates the Michael Park Fund, which was established in Michael's memory after he died in a rally accident in 2005, just two months before Richard's death.
Martin joins Marcus Gronholm as a patron of the Richard Burns Foundation.