Career best result for Barker
- 24th July 2009, 3:36pm
Stephen Barker has once again shown his talent with a career best second amongst the open class runners and sixth overall on his first visit to the demanding Rally Wairarapa.
Barker struggled with running second hand tyres in the slippery conditions to hold down a close eighth after special stage three, part of a four way battle separated by less than eleven seconds.
At 34 kilometres long, special stage four was the longest of the day and Barker attacked it, but pushed slightly too hard in the treacherous conditions and very nearly ended his rally.
â€œWe slid off the road at high speed, hit a bank which spun the car around in mid air before it came to a rest in a drain. Luckily there was no damage to the car and we lost minimal time,â€ Barker explained.
Heading into special stage six, Barker sat ninth overall and second in the open class, despite the Rintoul Civil Evo running completely in Group N trim, including a 32mm restrictor. Charging through stage six, he was within half a second of Open Class leader Geof Argyle in fifth for the stage. Such was Barkerâ€™s pace through the stage that the brakes actually caught fire which burnt the wheel speed sensor. Without the sensor, the active centre differential wouldnâ€™t work, causing time loss on the day's final stage, although he did close within two seconds of eighth place.
Barker upped his pace on day two and by the time the first service rolled around, Barker had moved his way up to sixth overall, despite a vicious pot-hole buckling a wheel and causing the steering column to fall into his lap.
By the time the final service rolled around, Barker had moved up into a top five position for the leg, still running only on second hand tyres. With a new set of tyres made available to Barker at the final service, he and co-driver Brett Lightfoot pushed the older car along for a further two top five stage times to finish the day fifth and a result for the weekend of sixth.
The team are now turning their attentions to their fund raiser which will include an Auction, random ticket draw and celebrity guest speakers, Johnny Reid and Emma Gilmour. More details will be released later in the week.
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