PENDLE rally star Daniel Barritt has admitted Robert Kubica’s performance at the Rally of Portugal was one of his highlights of the event.

The professional co-driver from Barrowford went head-to-head with the Polish driver, who is targeting a return to Formula One as he continues to recover from a life-threatening injury sustained in a crash two years ago.

Barritt teamed up with promising Welshman Elyfn Evans as the pair made their series debut at the World Rally-2 Championships in Portugal.

Barritt said: “Robert Kubica is extremely talented, with tons of natural driving ability – when he was driving on the gravel he was awesome and it was amazing to watch.

“We were very close to his times, though, and until we were forced out of the rally we were ahead of him.”

Barritt and Evans were running second to 2012 Finnish Rally Championship winner Esapekka Lappi when they were unluckily forced to retire with a rare input shaft failure on the second day of the event in their Ford Fiesta RRC.

However, Barritt, a member of Clitheroe and District Motor Club, says confidence is high after a glimpse of the opposition.

“This is a big year and I’m working with one of the top young drivers in Britain, these are really exciting times for both us.

“I’ve ridden as David’s navigator before but it takes time to find that understanding of the way a driver works, so hopefully we are going to be together for several years and forge a strong rallying partnership.”

The Burnley-born co-driver added: “We’re not too far away I don’t think.

“We went to Portugal to learn the car and we were surprised at how well we were going until the gearbox problem.

“Our next major rally is in Finland and hopefully we can build on what we achieved in Portugal and see if we can get a win under our belts this year.”

Barritt’s sporting hero is Blackburn superbike legend Carl Fogarty and he said: “Carl’s incredible determination to win was awesome – you can learn so much from watching guys like that.”

Daniel admits his father David proved a major influence on his career development and said: “I competed in a dozen rallies with my dad, and competed in my first stage rally two months after my 16th birthday.

“I’m very grateful for everything he has done to help me.

“Rallying has become a way of life for me – and I’m really looking forward to the mighty challenge of the next 12 months.”