It’s hard to believe that it’s seven and a half years since Australasia’s greatest rally driver, Possum Bourne, died tragically in a road accident prior to the 2003 Race To The Sky Hillclimb.

And while time passes by quickly, Possum’s legacy (no pun intended) lives on.

It’s fair to say that Australian rallying, and in particular the Australian Rally Championship, hasn’t been the same since the championship’s most prolific winner went to that special stage in the sky.

Possum had a knack for promoting rallying wherever he went. And it was that reason that Subaru in Japan and Australia did everything they could to ensure that he was driving their cars in events right across the Asia Pacific region.

During his tragically shortened life, Possum won the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship three times, and the Australian title a staggering seven times in a row – a record that is unlikely to be beaten.

Possum’s autobiography – Bourne To Rally – was being prepared in the months and weeks leading up to his death. Author Paul Owen had spent many hours interviewing him to find out the real story behind his rallying success.

From his early days driving trucks and as a sales representative for Lucas, the book, which was released in the months after his death, tells the story of the real Possum Bourne. The truck-mad kid who worked his way into rallying via a V8-engined Ford Cortina, and then a wildly driven Mazda RX3.

His appetite for success led to a chance meeting with Subaru New Zealand, and his first events in the company’s under-powered four-wheel drive cars.

From there, it was onwards and upwards with participation in Kenya’s Safari Rally and Rally New Zealand, eventually leading to a role driving for the 555 Subaru World Rally Team, alongside some of the sport’s great drivers – Ari Vatanen, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Richard Burns.

While Bourne never got the chance to contest the WRC in a World Rally Car – something he had long sought – he did just about everything else in his career.

While perhaps not the icing on the cake, his reign at the top of Australian rallying ensured that he was a household name, and in many ways, solely responsible for the growth of Australian rallying in the 1990s.

In 2003, Bourne had finally sourced enough funding for an assault on the Production World Rally Championship, driving a Group N Impreza WRX.

A trying event in Sweden was followed by an engine failure in his home WRC round in New Zealand, but he still had high hopes for a successful season.

All that evaporated, however, when his road car was hit by another car heading down the Race To The Sky Hillclimb course on a cold day in April 2003.

“Bourne To Rally” tells more than just the story of Possum Bourne’s rallying career. You get a great insight into what made the man tick, about some of his professional and personal life struggles, and why he was so revered in the sport of rallying.

There are stories on his career from some of those who knew him best, and a touching piece from his wife Peggy, written after his death.

As I’ve just done, you’ll find that it’s a book that you can re-read years down the track and still find it enthralling and hard to put down.

Possum Bourne was a great man, and his autobiography is a tremendous legacy to his life and a ‘must have’ item for any true rallying fan.

Bourne To Rally
Possum Bourne – The Autobiography
CLICK HERE to order your copy

Review by Peter Whitten
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