13 November 2010
Wilks appointed patron of Richard Burns Foundation
Guy Wilks: It's a tremendous honour to be asked. When I was growing up and watching the sport, Richard was a real hero for me. He was the ultimate professional in the sport, the kind of driver and person you strive to be.
Guy Wilks has been appointed patron of the Richard Burns Foundation, it has been announced, a charity established in honour of the Englishman, who won the 2001 World Rally Championship and died of a brain tumour four years later, aged 34.
Wilks' appointment takes the Richard Burns Foundation, which aims to help people, particularly young people, who are in a situation similar to Richard, into a completely new area of the sport - namely the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, where the 29-year-old will drive the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 next year
"It's a tremendous honour to be asked," said Wilks, who is a double British Rally champion. "When I was growing up and watching the sport, Richard was a real hero for me. When I did my first event overseas - the Swedish Rally in 2002 - Richard and Robert Reid, his co-driver, spoke to me and gave me some advice. During the recce for the event, we went out for dinner. They told me what to look out for and gave me some incredible advice.
"That relationship continued through the years. I would occasionally call Richard to ask him for some help and he'd always answer the call and talk to me. I was wary of making a nuisance of myself, but he always had time for me; Richard was somebody who really helped to shape my career and I have a great deal to be thankful for.
“Richard was the ultimate professional in the sport, the kind of driver and person you strive to be. He's somebody I'll never forget and always be grateful to."
As well as knowing Burns well, Wilks is also well aware of the reasons why the Richard Burns Foundation has been established - and he's looking forward to working alongside fellow patrons Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin in the future.
"I was enlightened about the problems cancer caused from a very young age," said Wilks. "A schoolfriend of mine was diagnosed with cancer when we were about seven or eight. He had tumours in his neck, back and leg. At the time, I would have been seven or eight years old and I really had no idea what it was all about.
“One day my friend was there, the next day he was in London receiving treatment. He survived, but that experience made us realise very quickly what cancer was all about. I have recently become a father myself and, again, that really brings it home to you that nothing is more important than our health.
"Like I said, it's an honour to become a patron of the Richard Burns Foundation and it's something I will be working hard for. Richard believed in me and I firmly believe in what we're going to do collectively in his name."
The Richard Burns Foundation will have an active presence on the Rally Great Britain this weekend, with a display of six of the former World Champion's cars before the Cardiff Bay spectator superspecial tonight [Saturday].
Wilks will drive an ex-Burns Peugeot 309, with a lucky auction winner riding alongside him in the co-driver's seat.
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