Following a 6 year break from competition, Stephen Barker Finished last weekend’s Rally Of The Far North in 3rd Overall.
With new navigator Kieran Anstis and borrowed Mitsubishi evo 9 for this event, the only expectation was to complete every stage, rather than focus on chasing a result. “this is the first time Kieran and I had teamed up for an event and I expected we would be off the pace in the first stage while we gelled and I got comfortable using pace notes again, but I was surprised to see weren’t too far off the pace during the mornings opening stage”
Stage two saw Barker and Anstis take their first ever stage win on gravel and move up to 3rd overall “Stage two was the longest and most technical in the rally so to take a stage win in a full group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 after only one stage back in the seat was a very cool feeling and a great confidence boost going into the remaining stages!” The longest stage of the rally, stage 3 at 52 kilometres was to be another test which would suit the evo 9 but was unfortunately cancelled.
The pair completed a very high speed stage 4 in 5th place only dropping 3 seconds from the leader and remained in 3rd position overall at the lunch time service break in the Kaitaia township. A lack of seat time and confidence from Barker to commit to many fast corners and blind crests throughout the afternoons stages saw the pairing complete the remaining 3 stages respectably but would ultimately cost the team 2nd place. Losing a place and dropping to 3rd overall “ The car is underpowered in the faster stages and I really needed to commit 100% to the pace notes Kieran was calling to me to stay at the pace of some of the other competitors. In a borrowed car we decided to limit the risk and consolidate a fantastic 3rd position “
Coming into Final control Barker was really pleased to bring home 3rd Overall in the Rallydrive NZ EVO 9, “ It was like being back in the fiesta days for me with Ben Hunt and Phil Campbell Driving well and winning stages. But Lee Robson would take top honours followed by Phil. “It seems my speed is still there which is reassuring!”
Barker would like to thank the following sponsors Rally Drive NZ // Hughes Transport // A little bit sideways & local support from Bakerboys Wholesale Nursery // Elsewhere Hair Salon & Waipapa Autocourt