Natalie Barratt will contest the final three rounds of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship - in New Zealand, Australia and on the Network Q Rally of Great Britain - in a Hyundai Accent WRC?.

It will be the first works built Hyundai Accent WRC? rallied by anyone other than Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team's three contracted drivers (Armin Schwarz, Freddy Loix and Juha Kankkunen) and Barratt will also become the world's only female driver currently competing at the sport's highest level in a state-of-the-art World Rally Car.

The car, which has previously been driven by Loix on the 2002 Safari Rally, will be prepared and run by Motor Sports Development (MSD). It will be technically identical to the works Hyundai Accent WRC?s entered on the same three events and run on Michelin tyres, but will feature Barratt's signature silver star-spangled livery.

The programme of events begins in Auckland on Thursday 3 October, when the four-day Propecia Rally New Zealand begins. While her rally car is shipped from Auckland to Perth, Barratt will return home to Wilmslow in Cheshire for just two weeks before flying to Western Australia for the Telestra Rally Australia, which begins on Thursday 31 October.

Soon after the finish, Barratt will head back to the UK to prepare for the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, which begins in Cardiff on Thursday 14 November. Her Australia rally car will also be flown back to the UK, where MSD has planned an intensive five day rebuild programme to prepare it for the Rally GB - together with a contingency plan, should the car be badly damaged in Australia.

Barratt has finished top lady driver on all three events in the past (NZ and Australia in 2001 and on the Rally GB in 1999). She will be co-driven by former British and FIA Teams' Cup Rally Champion, Roger Freeman.

Barratt recently tested a Hyundai WRC? in Wales, covering around two-thirds of a World Championship rally's competitive distance in two days. The gravel test, which concluded with a simulated run through a 50km long stage, proved successful, and it was this that has led to a new three-rally programme with MSD.

Barratt said: "We did a good couple of days testing in Wales with a Hyundai WRC?, where we covered 250 trouble-free kilometres, and that led to MSD offering me a Hyundai Accent WRC? for the last three rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. I'm really hoping my luck will change and we have a good finish to the year."

Paul Risbridger, MSD Customer Support Team General Manager, added: "Technically the test in Wales went very well and we were most impressed with Natalie's commitment. We made progress in several key areas, including lots of little things that will make a big difference in the future. We moved the seat position, for example, and Natalie immediately felt more at home in the car, and we introduced some new driving techniques to help Natalie get the most out of the car."

"It will take her some time to get used to her new driving style, and we believe Natalie will be pleasantly surprised by her pace if she lets the car do more of the work - and moving to a WRC? will be a great help in that respect too."