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The Stephen Barker Motorsport team have come away from the southern-most round of the New Zealand Rally Championship with a non-points scoring result after what can politely be described as a frustrating weekend.

Barker and co-driver Brett Lightfoot had high hopes going into the second round after showing top pace at round one and then upgrading to an Evo 6 for the Otago event.

The team had good reason to be confident after the first stage with a stunning time that put the Rintoul Civil Evo 6 inside the top ten, despite what Barker describes as “a slight off road excursion exiting a ford with a completely steamed up windscreen.”

The second stage started badly when the car developed a misfire, meaning Barker had to turn the anti-lag off. Then things got worse when the car landed heavily over one of Otago’s famous crests punching the sumpguard mount up through the radiator, smashing a strut through the top mount and cracking the windscreen.

The radiator damage and resultant dumping of all coolant went un-noticed until the engine stopped, ending the teams day.

“Unfortunately I guess it was a lack of experience on my part not picking up on the radiator problem,” said a disappointed Barker.

The team, who had worked so hard to get the car to Otago, were faced with a bigger task of repairing the car. Unfortunately they found that the head gasket had blown and could not source another overnight, so the team were forced to retire, dropping them to fourth in the open four-wheel driver class.

"I'm disapointed with the way our weekend panned out. The boys and I worked so hard preparing the car to make it to here and even driving very conservatively would only see us finish one stage. Definitely a hard pill to swallow but now we have to look ahead and get to work again in preperation for Whangarei."       

By Blair Bartels

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