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Barrowford ace Barritt set for return after death of friend
BARROWFORD’S Daniel Barritt is preparing to return to action after opting to withdraw from the Ypres Rally following the death of friend Gareth Roberts.
Barritt co-drives for Northern Irishman Alastair Fisher on the World Rally Championship’s Academy Tour and challenged Craig Breen and Welsh co-driver Roberts for the title in last year’s series.
It was Breen and Roberts who took the title, with Fisher and Barritt in third, but they all became close friends during that time.
The news that Roberts had been killed in a high speed crash during the Targa Florio Rally in Italy reached Barritt and Fisher as they were testing in Belgium ahead of the Ypres Rally.
The accident bore similarities to the one that left Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica seriously injured during the Ronde di Andora Rally, also in Italy, early last year.
Understandably devastated at Roberts’ death, Fisher and Barritt decided to withdraw from their event in Belgium.
“It has been a really hard few weeks,” Barritt said.
“We were testing out in Belgium and we were actually in the car when we heard.
“It was such a massive shock to both of us because we both knew him well.
“Craig Breen and Gareth were our closest rivals last year but we became good friends in that time.
“That was the reason why we pulled out of the rally in Belgium, out of respect for him. After that I just needed a couple of weeks away from rallying to be honest.
“A lot of people on the tour knew him and were friends with him.
“But we have to go on, I’m sure he would have wanted us to carry on.”
Barritt’s next event is arguably the most challenging of the year, the Neste Oil Rally Finland, between August 2 and 4.
But the 31-year-old admits it is one he always relishes and believes it could be key to the battle for the title, with Fisher leading the standings after two events.
“The next round in Finland is probably the best event of the year to do but it is also the most difficult,” Barritt said. “It’s very high speed with a lot of blind corners over crests, so you just have to make sure when you land it’s on the road and not off it “It’s a fine line between being quick and going off. You do need to have faith in the car.
“That’s what we enjoy as drivers and co-drivers, the challenge, that’s why we’re in the sport.
“But we’re doing a lot of preparation, we’re doing some testing in the next two or three weeks.
“Last year we were leading by 40 seconds on the first day but then we went off.
“There are two or three guys who have a good knowledge of this event and will be challenging us but we want to win it this year.
“Whoever comes out of this on top will be in a really good position for the championship.”