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The Stephen Barker Motorsport team of Stephen Barker and Brett Lightfoot have made a big first impression at round one of the New Zealand Rally Championship, setting a cracking pace in their older Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4 until rear diff failure ended their rally on the second leg.

Barker had drove his first rally stage in a four wheel drive car on stage one of the weekends Hawkes Bay Rally and despite battling with dust from the car in front and the four-wheel drive learning curve, Barker was tenth fastest and second in the open class.

A similar run throughout the day only once saw the duo drop outside the top ten on any stage and even then it was only just with an eleventh fastest. This was despite a trip into a fence on stage four and completing stages six and seven without an intercom, making communication of the vital pace notes very difficult. The end result for the day was second in the open class and eighth overall.

Unable to repair the intercom problem overnight, Barker and Lightfoot battled on and still recorded an impressive tenth fastest on the days opening test to continue day one’s fantastic form.

Unfortunately the team then suffered a rally ending rear diff failure on the days second stage, ending a run that had opened the eyes of many in their more modern and sophisticated group N cars.

Despite not scoring any points due to the leg two retirement, Barker still sits second equal after the opening round and the team are looking forward to round two of the series, the Otago Rally, to be held on May 15-17.
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