Marham set to stage major car rally

Chris Bishop RAF Marham's runways will reverberate not to the thunder of jet bombers taking off but the roar of rally cars next month.The Norfolk airbase is hosting an international rally in memory of world champion driver Richard Burns, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 34, in 2005.

Chris Bishop

RAF Marham's runways will reverberate not to the thunder of jet bombers taking off but the roar of rally cars next month.

The Norfolk airbase is hosting an international rally in memory of world champion driver Richard Burns, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 34, in 2005.

The inspiration for the event was provided by Burns's visit to Marham in 2000, when he was taken for a flight in a Tornado GR4 jet.

On the same day he gave a member of the RAF ground crew a driving lesson in a world rally car.

The Richard Burns Memorial Rally will take place over the weekend of September 13-14.

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Organised by the Kings Lynn & District Motor Club (KLDMC), the event will take place on runways, with 150 cars taking part in 10-14 mile stages over the two days.

It will provide a unique opportunity for amateurs to compete against some of the world's top drivers.

The headline competitor will be the Subaru World Rally Team, who will enter the 2008 car, driven by Markko Martin. Markko will compete against many other cars including Subaru WRC S5s and S8s, Mitsubishi Evos, Audi Quattros, an Aston Martin, BMW M3s, Peugeot 205 GTis, Escort Mk2s and RS2000s and many others.

The announcement of the Subaru World Rally Team's appearance at the event underlines the high regard with which Subaru held its former driver and champion Burns - with Subaru UK and Hylton Gott Subaru dealership having both already committed to sponsoring the event.

On the Saturday, the World Rally Team will be completing demonstration laps between 9am and 12pm before the official rally competition starts

A series of fundraising initiatives will also take place over the weekend, including a VIP Gala Dinner to be held in Officers' Mess with RAF officials - a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the tradition of a full Royal Air Force military dining-in night. It is intended that the event will raise in excess of £100,000 pounds for charity to be split between the Richard Burns Foundation - which provides support for people suffering from life-threatening diseases or injury and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund which provides similar financial support to serving and retired members of the RAF.

The engineer Richard Burns took out for a spin when he visited Marham in 2000 was Sgt Chris Daykin, an avionics technician on II (AC) Squadron.

This encounter with Richard inspired a lifelong affinity with the sport, and Sgt Daykin wanted to do something to pay tribute to his hero.

Sgt Daykin said: “People ask me why I am so passionate about rallying and this event. My privileged meeting with Richard changed my life inspiring me to compete in rallying and introducing me to an entirely new group of individuals, many of which have become my closest friends.

“My immediate family has also recently been affected by cancer, and the grandmother I never had the opportunity to get to know was also lost to a brain tumour.

“In this, the 90th Anniversary year of the Royal Air Force, I hope to bring a wide range of people together for this event from the motor sport industry and the Royal Air Force so that our combined engineering and motorsports skills can make a difference to people less fortunate than ourselves in health and well being.”

The event will also feature motorsport and military displays around the spectator area plus the refreshment stands. Gates will open at 7am on each day and close at 3pm each day.

The event is a ticket only event and all tickets must be purchased in advance from the website www.rallytravel.com .