The 2006 Propecia Rally New Zealand got under way this morning and the penultimate WRC round has fun written all over it, with the driver’s title already decided and the likes of Valentino Rossi joining the fray. For Dale Moscatt, it is his final event in a season crammed with experience and adventure.

From the remoteness of China and his role with the Honghe Rally Team, to tarmac racing with Grant Denyer, Dale has covered all level of events this season. One of the high points for him however will be this weekend as he climbs aboard the PWRC spec, OMV CEE Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 with UK driver, Natalie Barratt.

Natalie, from Cheshire, made her rally debut in 1996 and quickly stepped up to WRC level by 1998. She has competed in a huge variety of events in her 11 year rally career and her best result in New Zealand to date has been 21st outright in 2002.

“The character of the typical flowing New Zealand stages has certainly changed for this year’s route,” explained Dale. “The rally has quite a few new stages and most, if not all, of those new roads are tight and twisty.

“The 43 kilometre stage two is certainly going to sort the field out early on as it is probably the most demanding stage of them all. If you do get through it the first time on Friday morning without a drama, then there is a second pass to negotiate again in the afternoon. This stage took us almost an hour to write the first pass of notes on which should give you some indication of just how twisty and technical it is. I wouldn’t expect many PWRC crews will be able to wrestle their way through there in under the 35 minute mark,” said Dale.

“Natalie has quite a lot of experience at WRC level and we have been able to put a good set of notes down which gives us confidence for the rally ahead. It will be our first time competing together but I managed to win Group N here last year in a new partnership and I know the terrain fairly well. While I am not expecting the same result this year, I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead,” said Dale.

After a hectic season Dale skipped straight to New Zealand after competing in Rally Australia and then with Grant Denyer in the Mt Buller Sprint with Team Mini. The lads had mixed results on the mountain, with a small electrical gremlin hampering their progress. Since Dale arrived in New Zealand, however, he has enjoyed some rare relaxation time taking in several of the extreme sports that New Zealand is famous for, including quad biking, sky diving and luge!

“It was great to be able to come across early and fit in some activities before the rally and New Zealand is the perfect place to do that. When I got here I met up with PWRC young gun Jarri-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Mikka Antilla straight from their PWRC win at Rally Australia. Then we all teamed up with George Donaldson and a few of the other lads for some ‘bonding’ to relieve the pressures before the rally. We all had a fantastic time.

“Jarri-Matti and Mikka were my team mates in New Zealand last year and we have stayed close friends since so it was great to get on some quad bikes and jump out of planes and do all that crazy stuff with them,” said Dale.

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