'Possum' Bourne, 1956-2003

Peter 'Possum' Bourne - multiple Asia-Pacific, Australian and New Zealand Rally Champion - has died, aged 47. In a statement his family said: "It is with deep sadness that we announce Possum Bourne passed away peacefully at 12.58am on Wednesday, April 30, at Dunedin Hospital."

'Possum' Bourne, 1956-2003

Bourne's family took the decision to switch off the life support that had kept him in an induced coma since he was badly injured in an accident at the Race to the Sky hillclimb in New Zealand two weeks ago. Tests had shown that it was not in Bourne's interests to maintain life support any longer.

In a career that spanned more than 20 years 'Possum' (christened Peter but nicknamed after he crashed his mother's car avoiding a possum) developed a huge following, nurtured by prodigious pace and a refreshing, down-to-earth personality. His demeanour was so cheerful and full of energy and enthusiasm that conversation could leave you drained.

He was fast enough to be successful, too, racking up seven Australian titles and winning the Asia-Pacific crown three times. When the WRC went down under, 'Possum' was a thorn in the side of works crews - at his home event he had six top-six finishes to his name.

A family man with two sons and a daughter, Bourne had waited a long time for his chance on the world stage, and was determined to grab it this season.

His family and friends have lost a truly special person; the world of rallying will sorely miss one of its friendliest faces.

John McIlroy's full obituary will appear in next week's AUTOSPORT magazine

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