Britain's leading female rally driver, Natalie Barratt, suffered a frightening end to her participation in the Cyprus Rally Sunday.

Campaigning her brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, Natalie and co-driver Carl Williamson, were left balancing precariously for 50 minutes over a 30m-hillside drop. Seconds earlier, the driveshaft and steering arm sheered violently, throwing the car off course before coming to rest.

The incident occurred on the Vavatsinia stage, three from the end of the arduous Mediterranean event.

With the OMV World Rally Team pair starring skywards, Carl attempted to open his door, but the shift in weight sent them sliding further down the hillside. Only by slamming her foot on the brake was Natalie able to bring the car to a halt and prevent it rolling down.

Despite raising the alarm, they were left stranded as they waited for officials to secure the car and pull them free.

"It was terrifying," said a clearly shaken Natalie afterwards. "We couldn't get out of the car. We were trapped. After Carl tried to get out, we realised how precarious a position we were in. At that point, we realised it was safer to wait for help."

And it was a long, and frightening, wait...

"We immediately raised an SOS message to officials, but no-one came. We sat there for 50 minutes. 50 minutes when we watched other cars fly past. 50 minutes when I had to keep pushing down on the brake pedal. It became emotionally and physically painful by the end," she added.

Although Natalie had endured a torrid first day thanks to a series of mechanical setbacks, including numerous suspension failures and two punctures, she had climbed to an on-the-road highest position of 24th, only to fall back to a respectable 30th position at the time of the crash.

Officials later confirmed that a rock under a rear wheel had helped support the car from rolling any further down the hillside.