Peter Raymond George "Possum" Bourne (13 April 1956 – 30 April 2003) was a champion New Zealand rally car driver. He died under non-competitive circumstances while driving on a public road that was to be the track for an upcoming race.
|1991||New Zealand Rally Championship|
|1992||Australian Rally Championship (Group N)|
|1993-1994, 2000||Asia-Pacific Rally Championship|
|1996-2002||Australian Rally Championship|
|1989, 1991, 2000||Ashley Forest Rally Sprint|
|2001||Queenstown Race to the Sky|
|2002||Hokkaido Rally Japan|
|2002||Rally New Zealand (Group N)|
Bourne lived in Pukekohe, Auckland, near his workshop. He lived with his wife, Peggy Bourne, and three children, Taylor, Spencer, and Jazlin. Bourne earned his nickname, "Possum", on the night he crashed his mother's Humber 80, while trying to avoid a possum in the middle of the road.
His autobiography, Bourne to Rally, was completed just days before his death. A bronze memorial statue of Bourne, unveiled a year after his death, stood overlooking the event he loved the most. The statue was moved to Pukekohe town square in April 2013, unveiled alongside the 2013 ITM 400 V8 Championship parade. In 2005, Peggy Bourne entered Race to the Sky, despite having had no formal rally driving experience, as a tribute to her late husband. In 2013, his oldest son Taylor Bourne competed in the 2013 Possum Bourne Memorial Rally with his stepfather and MP Mark Mitchell as co-driver. When Taylor completed the event, he went on to say "It's easy understand why he loved it so much".
Car of choice
Bourne was best known for his exploits behind the wheel of Subaru cars, initially the RX (the turbocharged version of the Leone), then the Legacy (rebadged as the Liberty for the Australian market because of a perceived clash with charity organisation Legacy Australia).
But it would be the Impreza WRX that he would become most associated with, driving for the Prodrive Subaru World Rally Team in Rally New Zealand, Australia and also in Indonesia, partnered by Kenneth Eriksson in the mid 1990s, before going on to win multiple Australian titles with his own team.
To congratulate Bourne on his achievements and for promoting Subarus, Subaru Japan even awarded him a black, limited edition Subaru Impreza WRX STi for personal use.
Possum's best friend and co-driver, Dr. Rodger "Roj" Freeth, died in a freak crash during the 1993 Rally Australia, and the crash almost ended Possum's career. After a lot of soul-searching, and encouragement from the Freeth family he returned to the driver's seat aiming to honour Freeth's legacy. From the time of Freeth's death, Bourne displayed a "ROJ" license plate on the front of his rally cars.
Bourne received serious head injuries in a non-competitive car crash on 18 April 2003, and died in Dunedin Public Hospital on 30 April 2003 after life support was withdrawn. He was driving the Race to the Sky track, on the Waiorau Snow Farm Road which is normally a public road, for the event held in Cardrona, near Wanaka, New Zealand. Driving his Subaru Forester, he collided head on with a Jeep Cherokee driven by rally driver Mike Barltrop who claimed that Possum was speeding. This Treachorous road has over 100 corners at least 15 hairpins, hence its suitability for rally driving. Mr Barlthrop was later arrested on a dangerous driving charge. After pleading guilty to aggravated careless use causing death, Barltrop was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court to 300 hours' community work, disqualified from driving for 18 months, and ordered to pay $10,000 reparations, divided between the intensive care unit of Dunedin Public Hospital and the Possum Bourne Education trust.
At the time of his death, Possum had just re-entered the world stage, driving a production-class Subaru Impreza in the PWRC.
|1983||World Rally Championship||28th||Subaru RX|
|1984||World Rally Championship||43rd||Subaru RX|
|1985||World Rally Championship||51st||Subaru RX|
|1986||World Rally Championship||49th||Subaru RX|
|1987||World Rally Championship||23rd||Subaru RX|
|1988||World Rally Championship||72nd||Subaru RX|
|1989||World Rally Championship||49th||Subaru RX|
|1990||World Rally Championship||14th||Subaru Legacy RS|
|1991||New Zealand Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Legacy RS|
|1992||World Rally Championship||34th||Subaru Legacy RS|
|1992||Australian Rally Championship||3rd||Subaru Liberty RS||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1993||World Rally Championship||31st||Subaru Legacy RS|
|1993||Asia-Pacific Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Legacy RS||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1993||Australian Rally Championship||3rd||Subaru Liberty RS||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1994||Asia-Pacific Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Legacy RS||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1995||World Rally Championship||14th||Subaru Impreza WRX|
|1996||World Rally Championship||26th||Subaru Impreza WRX|
|1996||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRX||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1997||World Rally Championship||15th||Subaru Impreza WRX|
|1997||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRX||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1998||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRX||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1999||World Rally Championship||15th||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|1999||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2000||World Rally Championship||21st||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2000||Asia-Pacific Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2000||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2001||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRC||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2002||Australian Rally Championship||1st||Subaru Impreza WRX STi||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
|2003||Production World Rally Championship||14th||Subaru Impreza WRX STi||Possum Bourne Motorsport|
- "Kiwi rally hero dies". BBC Sport. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Devereux, Monique (12 November 2004). "Rally driver sentenced for Possum Bourne's death". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "Possum Bourne crash arrest - Eastern Police news release". New Zealand Police. 11 September 2003. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- Obituary - from The Age
- Obituary - AFP
- Possum Bourne Motorsport
- News story about who was to blame
- Interview with Barltrop
- Mike Barltrop arrested
|Winner of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
1993 & 1994
|Winner of the Australian Rally Championship
1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
|Winner of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship