Richard Burns has started the expected war-of-words leading into the Rally of Great Britain, as he prepares to face down British rival Colin McRae for the world title.

The final round of the series is expected to produce a frantic head-to-head between the Subaru driver and his Ford rival after Burns closed the gap on McRae in the Australian Rally last weekend. Just three points separate the pair, meaning that only a win will be good enough if, as expected, they prove to be the class of the field next week.

Fired up by criticism of his tactics in the past couple of seasons - when he has missed out on equally McRae's title tally - Burns has vowed to prove his detractors wrong - and silence the Scot by winning the Cardiff-based British event.

"If I'm world champion, it will do the job and shut Colin McRae up for good," he told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

Finland's Tommi Makinen remains in the title frame after scraping a sixth placed finish from a fraught Australian round, but has yet to shine in the British forests. Instead, the Britons' biggest rival could be resurgent reigning champion Marcus Gronholm, who won 'down under' and believes he can do the same next weekend. A win for the Finn would leave McRae needing only to finish one place behind Burns to be crowned as 2001 champion.