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Tuesday, November 24, 1998 Published at 14:18 GMT


Burns wins but Sainz goes down in flames

Richard Burns (right) celebrates with co-driver Robert Reid

Jonathan Legard reports on a thrilling finish in Cheltenham (Radio 5 Live)
Home star Richard Burns roared to victory in the Network Q Rally of Great Britain - but his triumph was overshadowed by a dramatic climax to the world championship.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who only had to finish in the top four to overtake Tommi Makinen and clinch the title, looked to be coasting to the crown on the final stage of the event.

Watch Carlos Sainz's dramatic flaming finish
But in a heart-breaking finale, his Toyota Corolla burst into flames just 300m from the finish line in Cheltenham.

Makinen reveals he heard of his triumph on the family grapevine (Radio 5 Live)
With Sainz unable to complete the course Makinen - whose own title chances looked to have been scuppered when he retired after spinning off on Sunday - secured a record third world championship in a row.

Burns in seventh heaven

Oxfordshire driver Burns won the rally in his Mitsubishi with a clean sweep of all seven stages on the final day.

[ image: Sainz cruises along before his untimely mishap]
Sainz cruises along before his untimely mishap
He finished 3mins 46secs clear of Juha Kankkunen of Finland, with Belgian driver Bruno Thiry in third place.

It was a day of double delight for Mitsubishi - the team behind both Burns' and Makinen's victories.

But team boss Andrew Cowan was in humble mood: "I've been in rallying for 30 years but I've never known an occasion like this," he said.

"I feel very sorry for Carlos and the Toyota team - they must be devastated."

Lady luck shines on Makinen

Burns was delighted with his home success: "It's gone superbly today," he said.

Richard Burns gives his reaction (BBC Radio 5 Live)
"We had a couple of little problems but nothing that gave us any major heartaches or cause for concern. We had a big gap and it's fantastic to get through.

"And Tommi (Makinen) must be so happy. It's a just reward for what happened to him on the first day, which was very unfair. There will be an even bigger party tonight!"

Sainz though was simply inconsolable after his last-gasp retirement. "The engine blew. It couldn't have been a worse end," was all he could say.

More dismay for McRaes

Earlier, there had been more bad news for the McRae family when Alister followed brother Colin out of the event on stage 22, when holding second place.

The younger McRae, 27, had problems with his fog lights and had to drive the stage virtually blind in pitch dark.

He went off in his Subaru one and a half miles from the end of the St Gwynno section, but he and co-driver David Senior escaped without injury.

Result after 28 stages:

  • 1 R Burns (GB) Mitsubishi 3 hrs 50 mins 30.6 secs
  • 2 J Kankkunen (Finland) Ford 3:54:17.1
  • 3 B Thiry (Belgium) Ford 3:54.58.1
  • 4 G de Mevius (Belgium) Subaru 3:58:25.4
  • 5 S Lindholm (Finland) Ford 3:58:46.2
  • 6 H Rovanpera (Finland) Seat 4:00:03.9
  • 7 A Schwarz (Germany) Ford 4:02:47.3
  • 8 K Holowczyc (Poland) Subaru 4:03:37.3
  • 9 M Martin (Estonia) Toyota 4:07:41.6
  • 10 M Stohl (Austria) Mitsubishi 4:09:37.8

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