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  Rally champ helps create virtual race game
Updated 06 November 2002, 17.20

In 2001 Richard Burns was the first English driver to win the World Rally Championship. In the 1990s he was the youngest ever winner in British Championship history.

Right now, Richard's got a book coming out and has just signed up to create a new computer game.

He spoke to CBBC Newsround Online's Graham Quince.

Why are you a rally driver?
I discovered driving when I was really young. I first got behind the wheel of a car when I was eight. I was quite tall as a kid so I could reach the pedals easily. It helped that my dad was really into cars and actively encouraged me. We lived in the middle of nowhere so I got to drive all the time. Doing wheel spins and handbrake turns. Getting into race driving just followed.

How dangerous is rally driving?
I've had a few accidents but I think I'm lucky that I haven't been involved in a serious crash. You do need to be lucky, although there is risk in every sport. We do everything we can to make rally safe, the cars are strong and will protect you.

One of the crashes, Richard has walked away from
One of the crashes, Richard has walked away from
You'd been close to becoming World Champion in the few years previous to 2001, how did it feel when you finally were at the top?
I was relieved and surprised to be honest. Surprised because I'd had such a bad start to the year. It was a big ambition realised.

What are you like to work with?
I'm probably not that easy to work with. I can come across as pretty demanding as first. Being the driver is such a unique job, no one else shares that experience. But in my defence, I will say once people get to know me and know how I work, we never have any problems.

Fact File
Richard Burns profile
Team: Peugeot
Co-driver: Robert Reid
2001: World Rally Champion
2000: WRC runner up for second year in a row
1993: Starts driving in WRC
1992: Youngest British National Champion

In your book you talk about how demanding the rally season is. How hard is it to have a personal life?
There's a clear two month break between the end of the season and the first race of the new season which helps. Any time I get in England is spent visiting family, but I also have a home in Spain where I like to spend the winter skiing.

How does skiing compare to rally driving?
It's more painful certainly. I don't do either sport to get a danger thrill. That's not what I'm in it for. Skiing is more dangerous certainly, you're not protected, but it shares a lot with rallying. You've got to read curves and turns. In both, you've got to be turning long before you actually get to a corner.

One of the early designs for the game
One of the early designs for the game
You've signed on with a games company to make Richard Burns Rally, how involved do you plan to be with that?
They're keen to have me involved quite a lot. Especially in things like the layout of the game. We want to make it quite different from other racing games. Robert, my co-driver, is heavily involved too, it'll be his voice giving the directions. I have to admit, I don't play a lot of computer games. I don't want to mix them up with the real thing, it's one thing to crash a set of pixels...

The guys have done a hell of a lot of research, they're trying to get everything right. I'm going to be there to add the detail. There's loads of things you can measure, but some stuff you just have to be a driver to know about. That's what I'm going to be doing.

Why have you chosen now to do an autobiography?
It's the year after I won the WRC and I have a lot to talk about. Plus, I felt there wasn't a decent book about rallying. If I'm writing it, then I can do something no one else can and put the reader in the driving seat.

Richard Burns Rally is expected to release in September 2003 and his book, Driving Ambition, is out now.

More InfoBORDER=0
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