FSTi steams towards Turkey for Round 2 action
Round 2 of the 2008 Fiesta SportingTrophy International series gets underway next week as crews gear up for action on the Rally of Turkey - Round 8 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

For the first time in FSTi history, a round will be held on the Asian continent as six crews prepare to take on 360.12 kilometres of competitive action over 19 special stages. All five who contested the opening round in Sardinia last month return for Round 2 and will be joined by new-comers to the FSTi, Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany and his co-driver Richard Wardle. FSTi crews will be relying heavily on information from championship supporters Pirelli who kept them out of trouble in Sardinia with no reports of punctures or tyre-damage.

After a faultless run on the opening round in Sardinia, Lithuanian Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (36) will be looking to maintain their hold on the series lead. The pair took a smooth approach on the rough Italian event and will look to employ this tactic again in Turkey, which is also a notoriously rough and rocky rally.

Currently second in the championship, and the only all-female crew competing in the one-make series, are Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) reading the notes. On their home event the pair will be looking to capitalise on their experience from 2006 when they competed on the WRC event.

Third in Sardinia was Koray Muratoglu (30) from Turkey, along with co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22). He is one of three members of Castrol Ford Team Türkiye, alongside Cetinkaya and Yurdakul. Sitting just four points behind championship leader Baranauskas, these two will also be looking to gain ground through their local knowledge of the event which was the place of Muratoglu’s first ever WRC appearance in 2006.

After a disappointing start to their FSTi campaign with a DNF in Sardinia, Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko have rearmed their Ford Fiesta ST GpN as they prepare for Turkey. This will be just the second event in the WRC for the Russian driver.

Also unfortunate in Sardinia with retirement, but a crew looking to make amends on their home event, is Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24). The pair showed great speed on the opening round setting two fastest stage times and cruising comfortably in second until the final day. Yurdakul will be hungry to join the championship scoreboard and will be one to watch out for on his local event.

Joachim Müller-Wende, who is the latest entrant to the FSTi series, brings with him a wealth of rally knowledge as he and his Quest Capital Management supported team look to raise eyebrows on their debut event. The German has contested WRC events in the past and has competed on international events in classes ranging from N3 through to A8 (WRC).

Since its inception into the WRC in 2003 the Rally of Turkey has been known for its rough gravel roads, which run through stunning mountain scenery in the country’s southwest region near Antalya. Service Park and Rally HQ are located in Kemer town centre – a popular resort town nestled next to the Mediterranean Sea - which was also the base of the event in 2006. A ceremonial start will take place on Thursday night in the grounds of the Akdeniz University before crews motor over the 2.6 kilometre Antalya super special in front of thousands of fanatic WRC supporters. 76 competitors make up the entry list of what is set to be one of the most testing events this year for both cars and crews alike.

Vytautas Baranauskas (24) from Lithuania said:
“We knew things were going to be tough in Sardinia so we just stayed in the middle of the road to keep out of trouble finishing 25th overall as a bonus. This is going to be the plan to start with in Turkey, but I know the Turkish competitors will be quick here also. I have never done this event before so it is going to be important to write a good set of notes to maintain the speed. I have been told this event can get very rough and rutted plus it will be very hot so I will have to stay very focused at all times. It is great to be leading the championship after one round but there are still five more to go so I can by no means rest easy.”

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