FSTi crews set for Iberian adventure

FSTi crews set for Iberian adventure

22.05.2010: The second round of the 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) series will get underway next week as the competition joins the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the Vodafone Rally de Portugal. This will be the third time that FSTi has visited

The second round of the 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) series will get underway next week as the competition joins the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.  This will be the third time that FSTi has visited Portugal and the gravel road surfaces combined with the warm climate will be challenging for the six Fiesta R2 entries and one GpN Fiesta ST.

 

The FST concept was previously based around the GpN Ford Fiesta ST and, whilst this will remain eligible for FSTi, the primary championship contender is the Fiesta R2.  With a five-speed sequential gearbox, the Ford Fiesta R2 is based on the Ford Fiesta Sport using the 1.6L Ti-Vct 120PS (1598cc) base engine as in regular production.  It is built from a standard conversion kit developed by M-Sport and has taken regular class wins since its launch in 2009.

Since its introduction to the championship in 1967, the Rally de Portugal has always been one of the most popular events on the WRC calendar. The four-day event will feature a total distance of 1223 km, which comprises of 18 special stages covering 355 km in which drivers will face a series of twisty hill sections, with fast blind corners and rough, narrow gravel roads.  The event will begin on Thursday 26 May with the 2.03 km Super Special Stage in the Algarve Stadium in front of an expected 30,000 fans.

Reigning champion Craig Breen (20) and co-driver Gareth Roberts (22) are currently leading the FSTi championship, but the duo have existing commitments to the British Rally Championship and will be competing in their Ford Fiesta S2000 at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally instead.

Harry Hunt (21) and co-driver Sebastian Marshall (21), were the highest overall finisher in their FSTi debut in Turkey, classifying 18th overall but lie second by virtue of Craig Breen’s faster stage times.  Hunt currently lies in fifth position in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) and will be looking to lay claim to fourth position in Portugal.

Swede Victor Henriksson (22) and co-driver Håkan Palm set a good pace in Round 1 of the championship in Turkey, but failed to classify after Henriksson rolled his Fiesta R2 on the penultimate stage.  He will be on a charge in Portugal to return to his winning ways, after taking victory on his first FSTi event, Wales Rally GB in 2007.

Christian Riedemann (22) will be joining the series for the first time in Portugal.  The young German is in his fifth year of rallying, having won the ADAC Junior Cup in 2009.  This year, Riedemann was keen to progress into the international field and he and his co-driver, Josefine Beinke (17), will face a difficult task as they venture  onto the rough gravel surfaces in their new Fiesta R2, having previously only driven on Tarmac. Riedemann’s main goal will be to finish his debut WRC event, building his experience of the Fiesta R2 on international terrain.

Team Abu Dhabi will resume their FSTi campaign in Portugal, following a successful debut season in 2009.  Bader Al Jabri (25) and co-driver Stephen McAuley had a fantastic season in 2009, finishing third overall in Al Jabri’s second year of rallying.  Having not finished this rally in 2009, Al Jabri will be concentrating on scoring points for a solid finish.  This year, he has competed in two Middle East Rally Championship events (MERC), where he won the N3 class at Qatar International Rally and came fifth on Jordan Rally.

Fellow Team Abu Dhabi competitors, Majed Al Shamsi and co-driver Alan Harryman will make their second attempt to conquer the Rally de Portugal, keen to improve on their performance last year when they rolled their Fiesta ST and were forced to retire on Day 2.    The duo finished sixth overall in the championship in 2009, so will be aiming to improve on that this year. 

Making his FSTi debut in Portugal will be the third member of Team Abu Dhabi, Sultan Al Ameri (25), who will be navigated by co-driver Killian Duffy (23). The young Emirate started rallying in 2007, competing in various Middle Eastern rallies in a Subaru Impreza.  In 2008, he contested in the MERC in a GpN Fiesta ST, but took a break from rallying in 2009.

Portuguese brothers Miguel and co-driver Paulo Monteiro will be the sole entrants driving a Fiesta ST, having last competed in FSTi in Portugal 2007 when they finished in fifth position after a series of punctures and an early retirement.  The duo started rallying in 1996 with a Ford RS 2000 on the Rally de Portugal and moved onto European events in a Ford Ka, as well as leading a successful campaign in a Ford Puma.

FSTi drivers will be competing for an all-expenses-paid test in M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 with BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver and 2009 World Championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen, with the chance to discuss the test with the flying Finn and M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE.  A prize fund is also available from which the winner of each rally will receive a €1,500 M-Sport voucher.

As in previous years, the series winner plus one 'wildcard' will be put forward to the FST International Shootout to compete against drivers from other FST championships around the world in order to win a year's contract to work at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Of the seven counting rounds, the best points from five rounds will count towards the championship standings. This will allow those drivers who have completed the full season to drop any low scores, but will also assist those drivers who are only able to compete on an event-by-event basis to score highly overall if they achieve good results on an occasional basis.  Scoring for 2010 will be as per FIA scoring, but with one point awarded for each stage win in order to reward drivers for demonstrations of outright pace.


FSTi competitor Harry Hunt [21] said:

“I’m really looking forward to another WRC round and I hope to carry on the success from Turkey.  I’ve been researching the stages from last year’s footage and they look pretty awesome! I expect the stages will be a lot smoother on the car compared to Turkey, which will be a terrain that is more familiar to me.  I haven’t competed against any of the other FSTi competitors except for Victor [Henriksson], so it will be interesting to see how I can perform against them on this round.”

 
Championship standings after Round 1

                TUR    POR    TOTAL                S    P    S    P   
1    Craig BREEN    IRE    ST    14    18    -    -    32                32    -   
2    Harry HUNT    GBR    R2    3    25            28                28       
3    Victor HENRIKSSON    SWE    R2    2    0            2                2       
-    Bader AL JABRI    UAE    R2    -        0
-    Majed AL SHAMSI    UAE    R2    -        0
-    Sultan AL AMERI    UAE    R2    -        0
-    Christian RIEDEMANN    GER    R2    -        0
-    Miguel MONTEIRO    POR    ST    -        0
-    Khalil AL SHAIKH    UAE    R2    -    -    0

Points system:  1 point for each stage win (S) plus (P) combines to provide the total score for each event.  5 total scores from 7 rounds to count towards final standings.

Key:    S = points scored for stage wins
P = points scored for classified position




2010 Calendar


Date     Event    Surface    FSTi

5 to count    J-WRC
5 to count
16-18 April    Rally of Turkey    Gravel    P    P
28-30 May    Vodafone Rally de Portugal    Gravel    P    P
9-11 July    Rally Bulgaria    Tarmac        P
30 July-1 August    Neste Oil Rally Finland    Gravel    P   
20-22 August    ADAC Rallye Deutschland    Tarmac    P    P
1-3 October    Rallye de France    Tarmac    P    P
22-24 October    Rally de España     Tarmac    P    P
12-14 November    Rally of Great Britain    Gravel    P   

 

- Kate Rhodes-  photo Fiesta Sporting Trophy

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22.05.2010 / MaP

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