New Fiesta R2 set for WRC debut
- 28th September 2009, 11:26am
The all-new Fiesta R2 is set to make its WRC debut as the Fiesta SportTrophy International arrives at the Rally de EspaÃ±a for its exciting penultimate round.
Five all-new Fiesta R2s are entered in the event with the remaining four competitors taking part in the Fiesta ST. Championship leader Patrick Anglade is locked in a battle with FST UK and Ireland champion Craig Breen for the title so the result of this event could go a long way to deciding the destination of the 2009 FSTi crown. The debut of the new car brings added excitement to the proceedings.
Breen took victory at Rally Finland in August closing the gap on series leader Anglade to 40 points. But, with the option to drop two scores, the fight for the championship is sure to go right to the wire at the final round, Wales Rally GB.
Rally de EspaÃ±a sees the return of Lambros Athanassoulas to the series after a three-year absence, while Belgiumâ€™s Anthony Martin also makes his 2009 FSTi debut. Team Abu Dhabi driver Bader Al Jabri is currently lying third in the championship, but only holds a narrow lead over his team mates Majed Al Shamsi and Ahmed Al Mansoori. Castrol Ford Team Türkiye drivers Emre Yurdakul and Burcu Ã‡etinkaya complete the field. Both Turks will be competing in the new R2.
Based around the Costa Daurada town of Salou, Rally de EspaÃ±a is the first and only Tarmac round of the FSTi this year providing a new and unique challenge for the competitors. The sweeping roads of the Tarragona region are fast and flowing but the surface can quickly become slippery as drivers cut across the open corners and drag stones and dirt onto the route.
Anglade (21) was beaten by Breen in Finland, but did enough to retain a large advantage over the Irishman in the table. Returning to his favoured surface he will be aiming to take another victory to put him in the box seat heading in to the final round of the championship in October. He will link up with new co-driver Peter Loth for the remaining two events of the season. Anglade will be driving the Fiesta ST at this event hoping that the proven set-up and reliability of the car will aide his title challenge.
Breen (19) and co-driver Gareth Roberts (21) now have two FSTi victories under their belts after an impressive win in Finland. The duo are riding high after clinching both the FST UK and FST Ireland titles in the last month and are now gunning for a hat trick of wins. Breen has been further boosted by a switch to the Fiesta R2 for this event which is his prize for winning the FST Ireland title.
Al Jabri (24) has been impressively consistent so far this season and is still in a position to exert pressure on the championship leaders if he can produce the kind of pace that gave him second place in both Sardinia and Poland. But he and co-driver Alan Harryman will also have one eye on their Team Abu Dhabi team mates who are just five points behind in the standings.
Al Shamsi (29) and co-driver Steve McAuley are locked in a battle with Al Mansoori, but the more experienced Al Shamsi will be aiming to move ahead of his countryman and stamp his mark on the championship. Meanwhile Al Mansoori (22) and co-driver Killian Duffy (26) thrived in the high-speed conditions in Finland and will be hoping to reproduce that form on the roads of the Tarragona region.
Burcu Ã‡etinkaya (28) and co-driver Ã‡iÃ§ek Güney (27) have been performing well in their home championship and will be hoping to translate that form to the world stage. Her Castrol Ford Team Türkiye team mate Emre Yurdakul (27) produced a strong performance in Finland and will be aiming to build on that in the new Fiesta R2.
Athanassoulas, an FSTi winner in Germany in 2006, has already made a big impression on the WRC this season, taking a fantastic eighth place overall at his home event, Acropolis Rally of Greece in June with co-driver Nikos Zakheos (29) winning the GpN class and P-WRC in a Skoda Fabia. He will also be driving the Fiesta R2
Meanwhile Anthony Martin (25) from Belgium was the first competitor to rally the Fiesta R2 at Oomlop van Vlaanderen earlier this month setting excellent times on the carâ€™s first competitive outing. He and co-driver Eric Bourget (25) will be looking to put that experience to good use on the Spanish Tarmac stages.
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