Barbara Armstrong 2009
Extract from the SEAT Jim Clark Memorial Rally 1999 Souvenir Programme
Joking aside, though, Barbara reckons her early riding days taught her many of the skills required to handle a 270bhp SEAT Ibiza Evo 2 Kit Car. 'The balance and feel required to control a horse in competition is not dissimilar to the skills required to fling a rally car around,' she says.
There must be some truth in what she says, because last year Dumfries-born Barbara became British Ladies Rally Champion. She started in the sport in 1989,when she won the First Time Rallying Scholarship, and moved swiftly on to a string of victories and high plac- ings, before 'retiring' at the end of the 1991 season to teach rally driving. Tempted back into the hot seat by SEAT Cupra Sport in 1996, Barbara resumed her winning ways,and was 2nd place lady driver on that year's RAC Rally. She had a successful full season as a SEAT Cupra Sport Team Driver in 1997, then in '98 set about chasing the Ladies Championship title.
The 1998 season started on a high for Barbara, when she came 4th overall at the Silverstone Rallysprint, the highest position by a lady rally when she came 4th overall at the Silverstone Rallysprint, the highest position by a lady rally driver in the British Rally Championship for seven years. But the race for the Ladies' crown was to go all the way through to the final round of the championship, the Manx. It was only through her fierce determination to win that Barbara managed to compete on the Manx – she had badly dislocated her shoulder in training before the event and was in excruciating pain for the whole rally. But the fearless Scot drove through the pain barrier to win her class and clinch the Ladies title.
Barbara's shoulder injury required surgery to correct, and as a consequence she's still not back to full strength.
Pictured are Barbara, Gwyndaf Evans and Mike Brown.