Richard Burns Rally is still the best rally simulator
Image Credit: Warthog Games

How to Get Started in Richard Burns Rally

Compared to circuit racing, there is no denying that rallying lacks representation in the modern simracing market. The almost 20-year-old Richard Burns Rally is still arguably the most realistic title around, out-doing the more modern Dirt Rally and WRC series. Being such an old sim, it can be hard to install and run. Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to do so.

Earlier this year, we posted an article showcasing the 2023 season of Sim Rally Masters. This classic car rally championship makes use of Richard Burns Rally, a rallying simulator about to hit 20 years of age.

With many disappointed by the most recent attempts at rally titles, WRC Generations and the all-new EA Sports WRC, it is worth checking out the rally sim leader. RBR provides a vast number of stages, an excellent selection of cars and some of the best handling physics around. Moreover, it can be legitimately obtained for free. As you may have to jump through some hoops to get the title running, here’s how to get started in RBR.

Installing Richard Burns Rally

No longer on sale, it can be difficult to find copies of Richard Burns Rally. If you own a PS2 or Xbox, you may be able to spot a disc version on the second-hand market. But, to focus on PC rallying, the standard game is available to download on several sites. All it takes is a bit of Googling.

However, the best way to get your hands on RBR in 2023 has to be Rally Sim Fans. This Hungarian organisation offers a free service giving players access to the game and hundreds of car and track mods. It also adds several plugins bringing improved physics, bug fixes, a reworked HUD and many new features.

Note that legally, you are required to own an original copy of the game.

Installing RBR via RSF is an easy process. Sign up for an account and download their launcher. From there, a quick install process allows you to choose which stages you want. Be warned: the full install will take up over 100GB of disk space.

This route means you won’t be able to run offline championships like in the base game. However, you will have access a large selection of cars. You will be able to drive these in a plethora of online rallies ranging from long events like Sim Rally Masters or shorter Daily Stages.

A Difficult Simulator to Master

Before setting off fully expecting to be a driving god on the fastest Finnish stages, there are some important things to note. Richard Burns Rally is renowned for being one of the least forgiving titles in the sim racing market. One small mistake can lead to dire consequences.

This is a result of the game’s handling model. It is surely the most realistic rally racer of the current century. Slides mostly come naturally. However, when you arrive at complex corners with odd camber or surface changes, you must be careful. When it comes to the brakes, lock ups are extremely common. To avoid flat spotting your tyres at the first corner, make sure to balance the car’s weight. Feathering the throttle while slowing down will keep the car stable and avoid snagging a brake.

It’s not just the handling that punishes over-eager drivers. The damage model in this game is frustratingly good. Hidden rocks, protruding branches and harsh landings all impact the car’s handling. While on the more extreme side, radiators puncture from the slightest of bumps with trees and guard rails. In Richard Burns Rally, it is of utmost importance to drive within your limits. Even the shortest stages feel like endurance events where simply getting to the finish is an achievement.

Many tend to see rallying as the discovery of a totally new road at high-speed. But in reality, rally drivers know these stages off by heart. They typically recce a stage to put their pace notes together. The majority of rally simulators do not have this feature as players get standard notes. However, in RBR, racers can choose to edit pace notes in-sim thanks to yet another Rally Sim Fans plugin. This adds to the authenticity of leagues as drivers can perform recces before actually taking on a stage.

All-in-all, Richard Burns Rally does a great job at immersing a player into the life of a rally driver. Recently released EA Sports WRC is a very fun rally game. However, for those looking to truly simulate the sport, the general consensus is that RBR is the way to go.

Will you be giving Richard Burns Rally a go 20 years after its release? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!