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Italian car maker, Fiat, look set to join the Australian Rally Championship in 2008 with a Super 2000 Fiat Punto driven by Sydney’s Kevin Shaw.

Speaking from his Penrith car dealership today, Shaw told RallySport Magazine that Fiat were “very keen” on getting involved in the ARC, and were willing to assist Shaw in making it happen.

A Fiat Punto Super 2000 car from Abarth in Italy will set Shaw back $300,000, and while he said he had the budget to purchase the car for this year’s ARC, he didn’t have the finances to run it.

“Fiat Australia have been to Abarth twice already and are very keen on the idea,” Shaw said. “While I don’t expect Fiat to be involved in funding the whole project in 2008, I think they’ll be involved through some sort of advertising and promotion program.”

After meeting with Fiat representatives at the Melbourne Motor Show last week, Shaw will be flown to the Abarth factory by the manufacturer in the middle of the year, and expects to have a car in Australia in time for the final round of this year’s ARC.

“I think the fact that they are flying me to Italy to look at the car shows the level of interest they have in being involved,” Shaw said. “They have also said that they would supply service vehicles and other bits and pieces for our program.”

Currently competing in a Lancer Evo 7, Shaw believes that the new Super 2000 category will be faster than the current Group N cars, and is excited about the prospects.

“If we can get a car to Australia in time I’d love to do the final round of the championship this year, before a full assault in 2008,” he added.

Fiat last contested the Australian Rally Championship in the early 1980s when legendary driver, Greg Carr, drove an ex-works Fiat 131 Abarth. While the car was super fast and was unbeatable on the stages, it was very unreliable. Carr’s team was jokingly called “Team Time Bomb” as a result.

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