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Pirtek Rally Team's Michael Guest and David Green have shown the true potential of the Super 2000 Ford Fiesta with second place in heat #2 at the NGK Rally of Melbourne.
Guest finished the event in fourth overall after placing fifth in heat #1.
The Pirtek Rally Team is the only racing organisation in the world campaigning the all-wheel-drive Super 2000 Ford Fiesta.
The team won five special stages over the two days of competition.
Guest won three of the day's stages, taking the fight to Simon and Sue Evans in the NEC Australian Rally Championship winning Toyota Corolla, finishing just 11 seconds behind.
Guest's confidence in the Fiesta was evident throughout the entire leg, as he charged through stages he had not driven in five years.
"This is a great team result," said Guest.
"The Pirtek Rally Team gave me by far the best car we have had all year. That gave me the confidence to attack and that approach was fully endorsed by the team.
"It was great to truly battle Simon and Sue. We took it to them this morning and the Fiesta stood up to the challenge.
"It's been a long time since I felt that confident in a rally car.
"We have every right to feel confident going into the 2008 season."
Not only was the speed of the Fiesta proven this weekend, but also the strength. Guest hit an exposed rock on just the second stage of the event, causing major wheel and suspension damage. He had to battle through another stage as well, with another puncture the result of the damage.
Upon entering the service area, it was also discovered that it had cracked the engine sump. The Pirtek Rally Team repaired the damage and had him back in the event, albeit in 15th place.
Guest and Green attacked over the afternoon stages to claim fifth for the heat.
The speed of the Fiesta was evident from the start when teammates Darren Windus and Jon Mortimer won the opening stage. They were placed second overall before an engine failure midway through the opening heat.
"Obviously disappointed not to finish, but the car was just terrific over those opening stages," said Windus.
"I really felt as one with the car and that has me looking forward to 2008.
"The car and importantly the team will be a force next year and the competition will be just awesome."
Pirtek Rally Team Chief Engineer Marcus Clarke was delighted with Guest's result in the second heat.
"Outstanding on all accounts," said Clarke.
"Michael and David did an excellent job in the car, and all our crew was just awesome.
"We choose to attack this event and you can only do that with a strong car.
"Toyota is a strong outfit and they don't give away anything. You have to earn it and that's what we did this weekend.
"The engine failure in Darren's car was clearly disappointing. I was delighted to see his pace and both he and Jon deserved a result this weekend. We will fully evaluate what happened back at the workshop, but it's a different issue to what we have seen before.
"The season might be over, but our work never stops. We have the FIA inspecting our cars next week for the international homologation process and that's clearly an important process.
"After that we have some corporate commitments and we can then truly start our planning for 2008.
"We are far from done with improving the Fiesta. That's why we are so excited for 2008."
Team Principal Jason Bright was on-hand to watch the final day and had plenty of praise for the Pirtek Rally Team.
"I went to the first and last rallies of the year and the improvement has been tremendous," said Bright.
"From our organisation's point of view I couldn't be happier with how this team has progressed. Not too many motor sports organisations can claim to have achieved what we have done with the Fiesta.
"I also want to acknowledge the tremendous support from Pirtek and Ford Australia and Ford of Europe. 2008 will be a very exciting time for them as well as our other financial and technical partners."
With the Pirtek Rally Team planning to build new cars for 2008, both current cars are now for sale to other competitors.

Photo: John Doutch

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