Rating: 5 out of 5.

    Natalie records best finish in Hyundai WRC3. –  Author WRC Robert Wilkins 6 Oct 2002

    A stunning drive on the Propecia Rally New Zealand has rewarded Natalie Barratt with a career-equalling best result on a FIA World Rally Championship event.


    A stunning drive on the Propecia Rally New Zealand has rewarded Natalie Barratt with a career-equalling best result on a FIA World Rally Championship event.

    Having started well, she increased her pace over the fast and flowing New Zealand gravel roads to finish 21st overall in her MSD prepared Hyundai Accent WRC?

    Co-driven by Roger Freeman, Barratt had to master many difficult situations – the first being her running position on Leg 1, having been seeded at car number 125. The consequences of which were running in dust, overtaking two cars on the famous Whaanga Coast stage (SS4) near Raglan and having little rest before the start of Leg 2, after completing the day’s final super-special stage very late.

    She nevertheless completed Leg 1 in 25th place, and immediately set about improving her position by increasing her pace as the event moved to the gravel roads north of Auckland on day two. The longest day of the event saw Barratt run through the New Cassidy stage (SS16) in twilight and the remaining two stages in darkness. While she lost time to the drivers who were running ahead and who had therefore completed most of those stages in daylight, the amount of time lost suggested she was still pushing hard.

    Barratt started Leg 3 in 22nd position and with the task of moving up the leaderboard getting harder, she increased her pace to such an extent that her times were comparable to the works Hyundai drivers’. For most of Leg 3, Barratt was running 0.3 seconds a kilometre off Armin Schwarz’s pace and 1.75 seconds a kilometre off the pace set by his Hyundai team-mate Freddy Loix.

    The time sheets were not the only proof of her pace, as her Hyundai now showed the battle-scars of a high-speed collision with a post, which dented the co-driver’s door and smashed the side window. This was no driver error, however, as a small oil leak was making the clutch slip and the resultant loss of traction made the car veer off-line. The clutch was replaced before the final batch of stages, curing the problem.

    With the final day’s eight stages, held in Maramarua Forest south of Auckland, completed, Barratt was delighted to reach the finish at the Manukau Sports Bowl after recording such a superb performance.

    “The car ran well from start to finish and I’m very pleased that we have been able to set some very competitive stage times,” said Barratt. “The plan was to start strongly, increase our pace as the event progressed and push hard all the way to the finish, and that’s exactly what we did.”

    N Barratt 2002

    “We tried to finish inside the top twenty and I’m disappointed that we didn’t, but I’m pleased that we have been consistently fast all event and finished where we have on merit. It’s given us all a lot of confidence going to Australia, where the road conditions are a lot more tight and twisty.”

    N Barratt 2002

    “This was a very strong performance. Natalie was consistently fast throughout the rally and pushed hard all the way to the finish, recording her fastest stage times at the end. With lots of drivers fighting for position, you cannot underestimate how good her times really were. Everyone at MSD is delighted for Natalie and we’re looking forward to going to Rally Australia and continuing from where we left off here in New Zealand.”

    Paul Risbridger – MSD Customer Support Team General Manager 2002

    The next event for Barratt is the Telstra Rally Australia (October 31-November 3). Her Hyundai Accent WRC? will be shipped directly from Auckland to Perth, Western Australia, were it will be re-prepared by MSD engineers in time for the penultimate round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship.

    Barratt shows true grit on Rally NZ.

    WRC Robert Wilkins 18 Apr 2004

    Top female rally driver Natalie Barratt showed tremendous strength of character and determination to successfully complete her third Rally New Zealand today in her KF Concept sponsored Mitsubishi Evo VIII.

    Top female rally driver Natalie Barratt showed tremendous strength of character and determination to successfully complete her third Rally New Zealand today in her KF Concept sponsored Mitsubishi Evo VIII.

    A heavy roll on the first stage of Leg 2 [SS10] cost her 20 minutes and left her with bad bruising to her left arm, neck and face but never one to give up Barratt bravely regained her pace, and despite a great deal of discomfort triumphantly crossed the finish ramp in Auckland this afternoon.

    “It was quite an eventful rally for us to say the least,” summed up Barratt, “It didn’t go quite according to plan but we finished in the end and that’s really important as I desperately wanted to get some miles under my belt with Carl.

    Co-driven by Carl Williamson, Natalie made a solid start on the opening leg of the rally on Friday [April 16]. There was certainly a lot to get used to – it’s been 15 months since she has driven on gravel roads and her brand new Gp N Reece Jones Rallysport Mitsubishi Evo VIII four-wheel drive car holds a stark contrast to the MG ZR S1600 she drove in Monte Carlo a few months ago [January 23-25].

    Having found her rhythm Barratt began to up her pace on the opening stage of Leg 2, the 25.18km Parahi 1 stage [SS10]. Pushing to the limit on the flying finish her Evo VIII got slightly off line hit a post and rolled sideways into a field. The car landed on its wheels and Barratt was able to drive it through the field and rejoin the stage to continue the rally. The impact had smashed the windscreen and the driver’s side window and she had three stages left to run before returning to service but Natalie was determined to continue.

    Borrowing sunglasses off two marshals to prevent the glass from going into their eyes Natalie and Carl got through the next three stages with very limited visibility to bring their KF Concept Mitsubishi Evo VIII back to the Paparoa service area.

    “We were on the flying finish of stage ten yesterday and I felt the car go off line and I tried to fight it and pull it back but we were going too fast and we hit a post and rolled twice through a fence and into a field. We managed to rejoin the stage and continue the rally but I could hardly see anything through the windscreen. It was really tough having to get back into the car with it being in such a state but I knew I had to.

    A team of Reece Jones Rallysport mechanics worked frantically during service and did a fantastic job to get the car patched up and road worthy again ready for the afternoon’s stages. Badly bruised but in high spirits Natalie continued through Leg 2 and was soon back to the pace she had been setting before the accident.

    Sore and stiff going into this morning’s final leg, Natalie’s main aim was to get her Michelin-shod Evo VIII to the finish. Today’s finale saw crews contest a group of three stages run twice ending with one of the key stages of the event, the tough 29.60kms Whaanga Coast stage. Taking over thirty seconds off every stage time on her second run through this afternoon it was clear that nothing was going to stand between Natalie and the finish ramp of one of her favourite rallies.

    “I’ve really suffered today, it’s been really uncomfortable to drive the car because my belts were rubbing on my bruises and my neck’s been really sore but I really wanted to finish, I’ve come this far and so I was determined to carry on. Although it’s been a strange rally I’ve really enjoyed it, we didn’t really come here expecting a fantastic result as the competition’s so fast and I’ve been out of a four-wheel drive car for so long but it’s been good to gain some mileage together on such a fantastic rally.”

    Natalie Barratt

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