Former world rally champion Colin McRae said Richard Burns' death had taken away a friend and battling competitor.
"Richard was a friend and at the same time a very fierce rival. We had many great battles, notably the 2001 Rally GB when he took the title," he said.
"I saw him a number of times during the past two years and the greatest battle he has put up was against his illness.
"He was a true character in the world of rallying and will be sadly missed as a competitor and a friend."
Head of world rallying Dave Richards said Burns' death would be a huge loss to the sport.
"Richard was well-loved and respected by everyone in the sport," he said.
"He was very methodical about the way he tackled the sport and came up through the ranks, winning junior and British titles before the world one.
"Richard was very calculated behind the wheel and had a very smooth driving style. He got the best out of the car in often difficult circumstances."
Richards added in an interview with the BBC: "I knew Richard as a young man almost a generation apart, more my children's age than mine.
"He was very determined and I watched his attitude going about things.
"He was well-supported by a very good co-driver in Robert Reid and the two of them were an extraordinarily professional team in the way they went about the sport."