Hamilton’s Stephen Barker is set to return to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship after a lengthy spell from the scene.
Barker’s successful season in 2010 piloting the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Ford Fiesta, lead him to New Zealand 2wd Championship and Fiesta International Shootout wins. Giving him the opportunity to work with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team based in the UK.
Since his return to New Zealand in 2013 Barker has competed in selected events while focusing on his career as a rally driving instructor at Rally Drive NZ.
“Although the opportunities have not been available to continue competing as much as I’d like here in New Zealand. It has been very rewarding for me assist and share my passion with customers coming through the rally school”, Barker says.
Barker will pair with Wellington based co-driver Chris MacIver to take on New Zealand’s best drivers in an attempt to be crowned National Rally Champions.
The team have selected a Mitsubishi Evo 9 as the platform for the campaign and although they will take on the new generation AP4 and R5 cars, they believe the production car is capable of the result.
“We have put a lot of work into the car to be sure we put our best foot forward this year and the early signs are positive”
Barker drove the third round of the Northern Rally sprint series earlier this month as a shakedown for the Otago Rally. Making the most of valuable seat time and taking the win along the way.
Although excited to confirm an entry into the International rally of Otago, the pair now turn their focus back to the search for support to complete the budget in preparation for a full season campaign. Barker himself is happy to admit he will start the season in Otago with a lot of work to do, to ensure his season does not end prematurely.
“Otago offers up two days of amazing rally stages, which we must complete to get ourselves up to speed again. The long break from full time rallying may give me a small disadvantage initially but the championship is long and we will give it everything at round two.”
With the first rally now just two weeks away, Barker will compete this weekend at round four of the Northern Rally sprint series to gain more seat time and finalise setup development with the car.