Two-time world rally champion Marcus Gronholm has been appointed as patron of the Richard Burns Foundation, a charity set-up in honour of England's 2001 world title-winner Richard Burns, who died of a brain tumour in November 2005 aged 34.
The Richard Burns Foundation aims to help people, particularly young people, by providing them with inspiration through Richard's example and the means to face the future with confidence.
Gronholm - who won the world title immediately before and after Burns, in 2000 and 2002 - was Burns' team-mate at Peugeot from 2002 to 2003. Burns famously described the Finn as 'my toughest ever rival, both mentally and physically' - but away from the stages they enjoyed a good relationship.
"It's a huge privilege to be asked to become patron of the Richard Burns Foundation," said Gronholm. "I admired and respected Richard both as a sportsman and a person, and his strength through adversity was certainly an inspiration for me. I hope that the work of the Foundation will inspire other people as well, by highlighting Richard's achievements in his life and his bravery towards the end of it.
"We are all very sad that Richard is gone, but also very excited and confident about the possibilities we have to help other people and honour his memory through the important work of the Richard Burns Foundation. I would like to ask as many people as possible to help and become involved."
Gronholm was announced as patron of the Richard Burns Foundation on the eve of the 2010 Rally Sweden, an event the 42-year-old has won five times. Gronholm retired from full-time rallying at the end of the 2007 season but is likely to make some selected guest appearances on events this year, during which he will carry Richard Burns Foundation branding on his car and overalls.
Among the trustees of the Richard Burns Foundation are his long-term girlfriend Zoe Scott and Prodrive's technical director David Lapworth. Along with Burns' co-driver Robert Reid they will be actively involved in fund-raising for the charity this year and the allocation of its resources through a series of special events, which will be announced in due course.
Reid, who is also the performance director of British motorsport's governing body, the MSA, added: "Richard and I enjoyed some epic battles with Marcus, and I am sure that he remembers them just as well as I do. I can think of nobody better to become the patron of the Richard Burns Foundation, as he observed first hand Richard's strength and determination. In fact, he was frequently on the receiving end of it!
"This year marks a new start for the Richard Burns Foundation, and, with the help of Marcus, I am confident that we will be able to raise the charity's profile in order to really make a difference to people's lives."