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Four New Zealand drivers and co-drivers will have an opportunity to showcase their talents on the international stage courtesy of the Fiesta Sporting Trophy, an exciting new rally series that will be added to the New Zealand rally calendar in 2007.

"The Fiesta Sporting Trophy is a Ford Rally One Make Championship that was launched in the UK this year by M-Sport and we are delighted to be able to support the series in New Zealand in 2007," said Richard Matheson, Managing Director of Ford New Zealand.

The series is designed for both young ambitious drivers and more experienced drivers, co-drivers and teams who want to compete with a package of equal competition on a professional level with low costs.

The winning driver and co-driver of the New Zealand series will win a trip to England to compete in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy International shoot-out against the best Fiesta Sporting Trophy drivers from around the world.

"A wildcard entry at the discretion of the organisers into the shoot-out will also be offered, which means four New Zealand competitors will have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the international arena," said Neil Allport, who has been appointed the Fiesta Sporting Trophy New Zealand Series Co-ordinator.

The Fiesta Sporting Trophy is based around the Fiesta ST Group N car – the car produces 123 kW at 5800 rpm and 202Nm of torque at 4500 rpm from the 2-litre Duratec ST engine which, when combined with the conversion kit from M-Sport, has been designed to provide all of the safety equipment and performance upgrades to enable the car to be competitive and reliable at any event around the world.

New Zealand motorsport fans had a sneak preview of the exciting Fiesta ST rally car when Mark Tapper finished in eighth place at the Rally of Rotorua in May this year.

"Following this excellent performance to finish ahead of highly-rated four-wheel drive turbo-charged competitors, we have been inundated with enquiries from competitors wanting to race the cars in New Zealand," Allport said.

"The stripped-down race cars will be provided to competitors by Ford New Zealand at a special discounted price.

"The cars will then be converted into rally cars with the M-Sport approved conversion kits – competitors are provided with a detailed manual that outlines how to do this.

"At this stage, it is anticipated the Fiestas will compete in the 2007 New Zealand national rally championship in the N3 class as a stand-alone category run under the same rules as the international series," Allport added.

Ford New Zealand will import the road cars which will be stripped down for racing purposes by Neil Allport Motors.

When asked about the possibility of adding the sporty Fiesta ST150 road car to the Ford New Zealand vehicle line-up, Matheson added:

"Fiesta ST is a very popular road car in Europe and we will watch with interest the reaction of the New Zealand public to these exciting vehicles – it is not in our plans at the moment, but never say never!

"We are delighted to be able to continue to support New Zealand motorsport and help these drivers and co-drivers compete in a cost-effective race series and look forward to some exciting racing!" concluded Matheson.

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