13/4/1956 - 30/4/2003
Record updated 26-Sep-07
Peter Raymond George Bourne better known as Possum Bourne was Australasia's most successful rally driver.
He was known as Possum after he rolled his mother’s car one night while trying to avoid a Possum that had strayed into the middle of the road.
He won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship for Drivers three times, in 1993, 1994 and 2000, and won seven straight Australian rally titles.
His best result in the World Rally Championship results were a 3rd overall in the 1987 Rally of New Zealand, and two 4th place overall finishes in the Rally Australia in 1990 and 1994.
In the Safari Rally in Kenya he finished 9th in 1988 and 7th in 1989. He also won the China Rally in 2000 and the Japanese Rally Hokkaido in 2002.
His faithful co-driver Rodger Freeth was killed in an accident during the 1993 Rally Australia when they crashed out during a Special Stage.
In 2003 Bourne had entered the Race to the Sky hillclimb, the New Zealand’s premier international hillclimb event, held every Easter for the second time. Startind at the foot of the Cardrona Valley the course runs uphill for 15 kms through 137 corners to the summit.
On friday the 18th April, Bourne had just finished his second preparatory run and was making his way back down the hill when, about 1.5 kms from the bottom of the Waiorau Snow Farm road, he met a number of competitors in road vehicles coming up the hill under controled conditions.
At this point a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by fellow competitor Mike Barltrop ran onto the wrong side of the road while going over a completely blind brow possibly due to the dusty conditions. Bourne swerved into the bank on the left as there was a large drop to the right. Unfortunately Barltrop also took evasive action into the same bank. The Jeep Grand Cherokee hit Bourne's car on the driver's side. Barltrop's car rolled and broke his leg but Bourne had suffered critical head injuries and was transported to the Dunedin Hospital.
On the 30th April 2003 the decision was taken to turn of his life support systems, he had been in a coma since the crash.
There is a bronze memorial in the mountains where he crashed.