Clark aims to wrap up FSTi title in Germany

Clark aims to wrap up FSTi title in Germany

11.08.2007: Clark aims to wrap up FSTi title in Germany

Brits Barry Clark (25) and co-driver Scott Martin (25) will arrive at ADAC Rallye Deutschland (17-19 August) expecting to take the 2007 Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi) title next weekend. The Stobart Motorsport crew must finish in first or second position on the World Rally Championship event, which should be well within their reach based on their dominance of the one-make championship so far this year. Clark has won all four events in Norway, Portugal, Sardinia and Finland.

The seven round series follows the FIA World Rally Championship calendar and Rally Deutschland is the fifth round of the competitive Ford Fiesta ST championship. Germany will be the first of two tarmac events in 2007 for the crews in their identical 2-litre GpN cars, followed by Rallye Catalunya-Costa Daurada in October.

Rally Deutschland is a relative newcomer to the WRC, having achieved world status in 2002. The event is essentially comprised of three different types of stages, the first being the vineyard stages. These use artificial roads built in and around the wine region in the hillsides beside the Mosel River.

The second type of roads are in the military areas further east, featuring surfaces that can be treacherously dirty and containing the car-wrecking concrete blocks, known as 'hinkelsteins', positioned on the sides of the roads. The third type of stages are the closed public roads, where there can be very tricky surface changes in poor weather, especially in wooded regions.

With both Russian Evgeniy Vertunov and Welshman Simon Hughes (second and third respectively in the FSTi championship) sitting the German round out, now is the time for Clark to stamp his name onto the 2007 trophy by capitalising on his 19-point lead over Vertunov.

He will follow in the footsteps of reigning FSTi champion Alessandro Bettega (26), whose season in the FIA Junior Championship has been boosted by M-Sport, the team having offered the 2006 winner the chance of a lifetime to compete in the Rallye de France as a member of the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in a Ford Focus RS WRC 06.

Lithuanians Vytautas Baranauskas (23) and co-driver Celiešius Gediminas (35) will be doing their best to keep Clark honest after snatching five fastest stage times from the Scotsman in Finland last weekend. Although Clark's dominance means that Baranauskas is losing his sights on the championship victory, he will be making sure that he takes full advantage of Vertunov and Hughes' absence in order to promote himself to second place in the championship standings.

Joining FSTi for the first time in Germany will be the Ford Racing Slovenija-backed crew of Mitja Prezelj (27) and Matej Èar (26). The pair started rallying in 2001, with Èar as driver and Prezelj as co-driver, later swapping driving roles.

They have competed in three Slovenian national rallies in a Fiesta ST this year and currently stand second overall in the N3 class. The Slovenians have also finished third in class N3 on the Croatian leg of the European Rally Championship.

Barry Clark said:

"I didn't expect to be in a position to wrap up the FSTi championship at this stage in the season, but it removes the pressure from me and means that both Scott [Martin] and I can relax and enjoy the events without worrying too much about points. Saying that, I still have every intention of pushing for the win in Germany.

We made a mistake in Finland, and the same could happen in Germany, especially when the stages turn tricky after unpredictable weather, particularly the torrential downpours that are common to the region.

I competed in Finland last weekend and a local Scottish event this weekend, so I've spent a lot of time in the car. It should be a good event and I'm looking forward to it."

Mitja Prezelj said:

“It's a dream come true for me to compete on a World Rally Championship event this year. We have started to drive the Fiesta ST this season and so far it has fulfilled all our expectations. I'm really looking forward Rally Deutschland because it's going to be a great challenge for myself and the whole team. Competing in a WRC event is so completely different to driving in a national rally.

The stages are much longer and we have a limited recce, so it's not going to be an easy task for us. Our target is to finish the event with as consistent a pace as possible and I also want to gain a lot of new experiences. It's very difficult to talk about the result though, as this is my first entry on the highest rally level and I have to accept that.”

Joining the FSTi competitors, but not registering for points, will be the Castrol supported Ford Rallye Sport Turkey crew of Adil Kucuksari (27) and Can Erkal (24).

Kucuksari is more commonly seen competing in a Focus RS WRC in the Turkish Rally Championship but will be joining the FSTi competitors in Germany to expand his international experience. Erkal has the experience of navigating for Emre Yurdakul on Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend and will be hoping for another excellent finish with Kucuksari.

Adil Kucuksari said:

"I am very excited to be part of FSTi and, after great start in Finland last weekend, we, Ford Rallye Sport Turkey, again want to be successful in Germany. The Fiesta ST is a strong and competitive car, which Emre [Yurdakul] proved in Finland. I haven't rallied in the Fiesta ST before, but we did some testing in Turkey. I am sure it will perform well and I hope to get a good result for my team."

 

Championship standings after round 4 of 7

1 B CLARK GBR 10 10 10 10 40
2 E VERTUNOV RUS 8 5 8 - - 21
3 S HUGHES GBR 5 8 6 - - 19
4 V BARANAUSKAS LIT DNF 6 4 8 18
5 G BARBATI ITA - 4 5 - - 9
6 S BIELTVEDT NOR 6 - - - - 6
7 M MONTEIRO POR - 3 - - - 3
8 M PREZELJ SLO - - - -

*6 of 7 scores to count


- Stobart Motorsport also photo -

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11.08.2007 / MaP

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