BMW driver the one to beat
- 11th July 2011, 3:34pm
Barker, 33, a former Toyota works driver hails from Bega on the far south coast and is looking forward to getting back into the coastal mountain ranges where he cut his rallying teeth.
Driving a rear drive BMW 318 Barker and his uncle and co-driver Pip are the pre rally favourites following their superior display of speed and consistency in the opening rounds of the series taking sixth and first in class on unfamiliar roads at the opening round near Ballarat and winning the Forbes Shire Rally.
The speedy BMW showed a clean pair of heals to the opposition in Forbes where the fast shire roads suited the speed and driving talent of Barker helping him take the series points lead heading to Batemans Bay.
The nephew and uncle pairing built the BMW from a $1000 shell into a fire breathing 300 horsepower forest racer with Pip, a former BMW JPS team race mechanic overseeing the M3 spec engine while Ben pitched in to help complete the project.
"Uncle Pip convinced me this was going to be a really fantastic car to drive and he is absolutely right, it sounds fantastic and should really thrill the spectators at the Bay," said Ben.
"Pip worked for Frank Gardner's famous BMW JPS factory team in the 1980s and certainly knows what makes these things go fast, it is a fantastic car to drive," he added.
"I am really looking forward to the roads at the Bay, although I have only really driven there once before my memories are of some very fast and enjoyable roads and we are definitely looking forward to giving the spectators a show," said Ben.
A landscape and earthmoving contractor in Bega Ben was picked by Neal Bates Toyota works team to drive a third team Corolla in the Australian Rally Championship in the early 2000s until budget cuts saw the drive evaporate.
Now with three young children and having taken over the family business with his brother Ben was keen to return to rallying for fun rather than for his career.
"The Two Wheel Drive Masters maybe a largely amateur event but it is no walk in the park, the pace is really hot at the front and the competition is very intense," said Ben.
Barker says his main opposition will come from Datsun drivers Bill Brown and Jamie Waterhouse and Toyota Celica driver Craig Aggio who is currently second to the Bega BMW in the overall 2WD Masters pointscore.
The Rally of the Bay will be run on Saturday July 30 with the ceremonial start in Batemans Bay at 12noon beside the river, giving locals the opportunity to see the competitors and their array of spectacular rally cars up close.
After driving over the start ramp competitors will face 132 kilometres of competitive running over seven challenging stages over some of the most flowing and truly enjoyable roads in Australia.
The first car is due to finish the rally around 7:30pm giving drivers and spectators plenty of action after the sunsets.
Spectators will have plenty of chances to view all the action, with five viewing points during the rally with the final point is a beauty fully flood-lit with live commentary with up to date results and rally news.
The service park and finish are located in the one place near the centre of Batemans Bay and the relaxed format will allow service crews to go to spectator points to see their car and be back to service with time to spare.
As of Friday July 8 organisers had received 47 entries and expect more than 80 cars to face the starter on July 30.
Full details of the Kumho Tyres Extreme Driving Rally of the Bay can be accessed via the website at http://www.2wdrallymaster.org
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