Q&A: Natalie Barratt - exclusive.

by Rob Wilkins.

Britain's leading female rally driver, Natalie Barratt kicked off her Production Car WRC campaign in New Zealand at the beginning of April, and her next event will be in Cyprus in two weeks' time.

Here, talking exclusively to Crash.net Radio, she reflects on the trip to the other side of the world and casts her thoughts towards the next challenge...

Natalie, a difficult rally in New Zealand, in many respects - but, in light of the fact you and your co-driver Carl Williamson were feeling ill and all the gearbox troubles you had, were you pleased just to get to the finish?

Natalie Barratt:
On Friday afternoon, when the gearbox went, I thought it wouldn't make any difference whether we got to the finish. I know we only just missed out on getting a point in the end, but I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed - one with my performance and second, in the car. So now I am just trying to put it all behind me - pretty rapidly - and I am now focusing on Cyprus, which is our next round.

How difficult was it feeling sick and trying to compete on a World Rally?

It was very odd. Carl [Williamson] and I ate the same thing on the Thursday, just before the rally started, and, on the Friday morning, I felt pretty rough, and I said to him: 'Have you been feeling okay?' and he said: 'actually, no' - and I thought: 'great!'. The worst bit was Saturday night, when we went round the superspecial. I felt, really, really, really rough. I literally had my hand over my mouth and I must have looked an absolute prat. But I don't know what it was - we obviously both ate something dodgy.

I take it you won't be returning to where you ate if you go back to NZ in the future?

Well, yeah... Recently, I have been getting sick a bit on the rallies and I don't know why. It must be something somewhere I am eating. In Turkey last year, I ended up in hospital for two days, with chronic food poisoning - you know, on a drip and everything. So I am really not looking forward to going back to Turkey.

How are you finding switching back to a Production Car after taking part in the Junior WRC in 2004?

It is different. The cars are a lot different to drive. They should be more reliable. Well, they are more reliable, what happened to us was pretty freaky with the gearbox failure [in NZ]. The Junior drivers do Sardinia and it is so rough for them to do in those cars. It should be a Production Car round, because the cars are much tougher.

As for my driving style, I have had to change it quite a bit. I am over-revving the car now, which is a trait from driving a Super 1600 car, so I have to learn to change up the gears earlier. It's just different really, but I am enjoying it.

You did the International Rally of Wales recently, the opening round in the BRC. That didn't go to well either, did it?

No, it was very freaky. I still don't quite know what happened. The car ran all week. It ran the morning of the rally and, literally, I came to get in it and it wouldn't start. It just wouldn't start. It was very, very strange. Too much fuel was going into the engine basically, and two of the spark plugs were completely drowned. It wasn't getting any spark and that was that. We made it over the [start] ramp, but that was it. It was finished around 2km down the road when stopped. Great, eh?

Not exactly what you planned I'm sure. Are you doing a full BRC campaign this year?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Natalie Barratt - OMV World Rally Team
Natalie Barratt will contest the 2005 PCWRC with the OMV World Rally Team in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII
Natalie Barratt - OMV World Rally Team
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