Natalie Barratt will be aiming to score points for the third consecutive time in the FIA Teams' Cup when she heads for the north-west corner of Italy and the San Remo Rally on 4-7 October.

Mitsubishi's 26-year old female star has never contested the event before but, even though the maximum number of starters has been almost halved to 75, Barratt's ability and FIA 'Priory 2' ranking have guaranteed her a starting position this year.

Piloting her GpN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, the English girl will be co-driven in San Remo by Michael Gibson. The 35-year old Ulsterman navigated for Barratt at the 2000 Summit Rally, and did gravel notes for her on the Swedish Rally this year. He has never contested the San Remo Rally before, but Barratt will no-doubt benefit from his vast experience of rallying on asphalt.

The unique lapping system, plus a magnificent entry list - which includes 39 World Rally Cars - makes the San Remo Rally one of the hardest events in the World Rally Championship, particularly for a driver who has never contested the event before.

"San Remo is going to be a very difficult event for me, but the aim is to try and score more points in the FIA Teams' Cup," Barratt admitted, "I'm currently lying fifth in the series, so if I can maintain that position I'll be very happy. I like competing on asphalt rallies and usually go well, and San Remo will be a new experience. The Mitsubishi Lancer is a strong car, which is essential as there is a lot of heavy braking and acceleration, and the Michelin tyres work well on asphalt, so I'm hopeful of scoring another good result."

The event starts down by the Liguria coast in the Piazza Mameli in San Remo on Thursday night [4 October], with all 16 asphalt stages - totalling 240 miles or 387kms - run high over the mountain passes of the spectacular Riviera del Fiori region. Only six different roads, run in both directions, are used - with three stages run four times and two stages run twice.

Rather than make the event, the format will present Barratt with two additional problems. Firstly, drivers with previous experience of the event will be able to start at a flat-out pace, while she will have to get used to the new stages. Secondly, the cars in front will pull loose gravel out on to the road. This invariably occurs on the critical apex of corners and the problem will be magnified when the stages are run in the reverse direction, as some corners may be entirely covered in gravel when Barratt arrives. So, even if the weather is dry, road conditions may be inconsistently slippery and extremely hazardous.