On this date 14 years ago I was slithering about in a quagmire in Margam Park in south Wales, wearing a pair of Tesco carrier bags inside my walking boots in a vain attempt to prevent muddy slop from penetrating my socks.

It was Sunday, the final day of the 2001 Wales Rally GB, and after three days following the World Rally Championship decider, I was longing for a hot bath and a change of underwear.

My mates and I were following the rally the proper way, haring around the Welsh countryside from stage to stage, then driving deep into the forests at night and sleeping in our cars to ensure we could grab a prime vantage point on the first stage of the next day.

Our convoy comprised a pair of Peugeot 306 D-Turbos and a Range Rover, all of which by the end of night one were ripe with a distinctive smell that can only be described as ‘rally odour’.

It was a thrilling event, which had been dubbed ‘the Battle of Britain’ because Colin McRae (Ford) and Richard Burns (Subaru) were vying for the world championship. Even the mainstream media was bigging up the fight. Former champions Carlos Sainz and Tommi Mäkinen were also in contention.

During the event, keeping up with the leaderboard in those days before super-quick smartphones was a case of picking up whatever snippets of information you could via radio, text or better-informed fans.

We’d watched McRae win Thursday night’s superspecial at a windy Cardiff Bay. When we witnessed him through Tyle, the second proper forest stage on Friday morning, he was on another planet to the other drivers in terms of pace and we were left in no doubt who was leading the rally.

What we didn’t find out until later that day was that the Scot rolled his Ford Focus WRC out of the rally on the very next stage.

Mäkinen and Sainz hit trouble and canny Burns needed to finish fourth or better to win the world title. As he and navigator Robert Reid splashed past us in Margam, to a deservedly loud cheer, he was on his way to a solid third place behind the Peugeots of Marcus Grönholm and Harri Rovanperä.

Burns melded speed with intelligence to scoop the WRC, but he certainly didn't want for the former. During his top-line career with Mitsubishi and Subaru, he won ten of the toughest events on the calendar, including the Safari Rally (twice), Australia (once) and of course Rally GB (three times).