Locals triumph in Turkey as Çetinkaya makes history
Round 2 of the highly competitive Fiesta SportingTrophy International series has been won this weekend by Burcu Çetinkaya on her home event – the Rally of Turkey. Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) have created FSTi history today by becoming the first all-female crew to win a round of the championship as well as lead the series, which they currently do by an impressive eight points.

The pair also created history by becoming the first all-female crew to score a stage win on the 9.9 kilometre Kumluca 2 test, which was followed up by three more on day 2 and one on today’s final leg.

Second place went to fellow Castrol Ford Team Türkiye crew Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24). The pair led for every stage of the event coming into the final stage of the rally with just over two minutes’ lead. Unfortunately, disaster struck as they picked up a puncture with just five kilometres remaining and lost two and a half minutes, missing out on the lead by just 31 seconds

Despite four stage wins over the weekend, round one winners and FSTi championship leaders Lithuanian Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (36), were unable to repeat their successes in Sardinia and retired. The 24-year-old retired on Sunday on the penultimate stage with a broken driveshaft.

After retiring on day 1 when their Ford Fiesta ST GpN became stuck off the road on stage 7, the FSTi series’ latest addition, Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany and his co-driver Richard Wardle, kicked back into the rally and were third by the end of day 2. Unfortunately damage to the front left suspension on the final stage of the rally shattered his dream of a debut podium on his first ever FSTi challenge.

After a disappointing first rally in Italy, Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko bounced back from day 1 retirement and were lying fifth at the end of day 2. Grodetskiy took an educated approach towards the event but an unfortunate power-steering problem forced him to retire after Sunday’s opening stage and subsequently from the event. A highlight for the Russian however was a second fastest time on the 22.4 kilometre Phaselis 2 stage on Saturday.

The event was also not so kind for local stars Koray Muratoğlu (30) from Turkey, along with co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22) who retired from the event on stage 5. The pair had a heavy accident rolling their Fiesta ST GpN bending the rollcage meaning that they were unable to restart under FIA safety regulations.

Cetinkaya and co-driver Çiçek Güney finished the event with a fantastic result, 26th overall and 1st in Class N3 – once again proving the speed and reliability of the Fiesta ST.

Championship partners Pirelli, once again proved that the Scorpion tyre is a winner for the GpN Fiesta ST with only minimal reports on punctures and tyre wear despite the rough and rugged terrain thrown at these competitors.

The prize for the championship was announced before the rally started by BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team principal Malcolm Wilson and Ford Director of Motorsport Mark Deans. Drivers will be competing for an all-expenses-paid test in the latest specification Ford Focus RS WRC with tuition from World Champion and Ford Ambassador Marcus Grönholm. In addition any driver who enters four or more events will be automatically eligible for a test in the Focus.

Last year’s FSTi champion Barry Clark completed an excellent weekend for the Ford team and made a sound job of his drive in the Focus WRC as part of the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team, which he was awarded as his prize for winning the championship last year. He finished an exceptional tenth overall claiming the last manufacturers point for the Munchi’s Ford team.

The next event on the Fiesta SportingTrophy International calendar is Neste Oil Rally Finland in August. After two consecutive rough events, the series is set to treat crews in its third of six rounds as they take on the fast flowing smooth Scandinavian stages.

Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey said:
“It feels very, very good to win my first Fiesta SportingTrophy round and even better to be leading the championship. With Baranauskas out of the game early and once I saw the difference to my team-mate Emre after the first day, I just drove sensibly to hold my position and not make any mistakes. It was, however, important to stay close to him in case he made a mistake or something happened and, OK I am sad for my team-mate because he was doing well, but this is how rally is sometimes.”

Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey said:
“It is very disappointing for me to be leading the rally for every stage and then have this puncture on the final stage and drop to second, but this is the way it goes sometimes. Obviously I would have loved to win here on my home event but I am still very happy to take eight points and now we are up to third in the championship. I will be trying hard in Finland to challenge Burcu [Çetinkaya] and Vytautas [Baranauskas] especially after the speed we were able to go at here in Turkey.”

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