Daniel Barry ended his season on a high last weekend when he finished second on the Bulldog Rally, the final round in this year's UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge.
The result enabled the Eniskerry rally driver to end the season third in the highly-competitive one-make Mitsubishi series and allowed his co-driver Martin Brady to secure the champion co-driver's title.
Following accidents in his previous two gravel rallies, Barry was a little apprehensive before last weekend's event, especially as he was still recovering from an injury to his hand for which he had been receiving special treatment in order to speed up the healing process.
Added to this, the damage sustained to his Mitsubishi in the Rally Yorkshire at the end of September meant that Daniel and his team had hired a replacement Evo IX for the event, ironically the car in which Martin had co-driven for the first half of the year.
The Bulldog Rally featured 65 miles split into six stages on the gravel roads of the north-Wales forests. Needing to get his confidence back, Daniel started the rally cautiously, but still emerged from the first stage fourth in the Evo Challenge standings.
Gradually increasing his pace, he then moved up to third following the second stage and could have easily taken second place on the third stage, but when he saw the leading Mitsubishi had crashed out, his concentration wavered. But he was now a lot more comfortable with his pace and having got used to his change of car, Daniel and co-driver Martin felt capable of going even faster in the afternoon's three remaining stages – which they did.
With just one stage left to go, Daniel found himself just 2.5 seconds behind Neil McCance who he would need to beat in order to finish third in the championship. Mustering his determination for a final charge, Daniel went on to snatch second place by 2.7 seconds and in fact ended the rally only 7.6 seconds off the leader.
“Following the problems of the past few events I'm really pleased with the result”, said Daniel. “If I had not started the rally so cautiously then I'm fairly certain we could have been in with a chance of winning.
“But I went to the event to do a job – and that was to get to the finish safely in the highest position possible. Therefore, I achieved what I set out to do and I'm satisfied with that.”
The result sees him finish third in the final Evolution Challenge standings, third in Group N in the Pirelli MSA National Gravel Championship and also win the PIAA Junior Award for under 25 year-old drivers.
He and the Barry Motorsport team now look towards 2009 and are already building a new Mitsubishi Lancer in readiness for next season.