Fiestas search for success on Scandinavian soil
Round 3 of the 2008 Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International series gets underway next week as eight registered crews gear-up for the high speed stages of the Neste Oil Rally Finland - round 9 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Currently leading the way in the championship after two rounds is the all-female crew of Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) reading the notes. Çetinkaya’s double podium effort on the opening two rounds – which includes a win on her home event in Turkey last month – sees her hold an eight-point advantage in the series. This will be the first time either competitor has competed on Finnish soil and they will be searching for yet another podium result.

Second in the series and winner of the opening FSTi round in Sardinia is Lithuanian Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (36). The pair dominated the opening round back in May, but a raft of issues caused their retirement in Turkey. However, with four impressive stage wins on the Eurasian event, the 24-year-old will still head to Finland as event favourite with the most WRC and Rally Finland starts of any FSTi driver under his belt.

A second placed finish on the most recent FSTi round in Turkey has seen Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24) move to outright third in this highly competitive one-make championship. Yurdakul shone on his home event and was set for an impressive win until an ill-fated puncture on the final stage of the event knocked him back to second. Still, with his impressive speed shown in Turkey he will also be one to watch come next Thursday evening when Stage 1 gets underway.

Koray Muratoğlu (30) from Turkey, along with co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22) currently lie fourth in the FSTi championship just two points behind countryman Yurdakul. Muratoğlu will be looking to extend on his current gravel for which saw him pick up a podium finish on the opening round in Sardinia.

Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko have been keeping on top of the game over the WRC break by competing on the OK Auto Ralli in Finland alongside Jarkko Nikara (22), Atte Alanen (20) and Baranauskas. The two crews will use their recent knowledge of Finnish roads to good effect when they tackle Rally Finland next week. Çetinkaya and Horkama will also be keeping their skills on the ball pre-Finland by conducting a test in the town of Karkkila to the north west of Helsinki.

Round 3 will see the highest number of FSTi registered GpN Ford Fiesta STs to date in 2008, which means some new faces to the series. Jarkko Nikara from Finland joins the race and will be navigated by older brother Petri Nikara (27). Nikara is no stranger to Finnish roads, as the 2006 Finnish Junior Champion he has also contested the WRC round once before in 2007 where he was lying first in class N3 and sixth in GpN after 15 stages until retirement, but still finished the event a creditable 38th outright.

Another youngster stepping up to the challenge is Atte Alanen from Finland and co-driver Tommi Alkula (30). Despite his inexperience, Alanen has shown great potential over the past year and a half since his first attempt at a rally in 2007. The 20-year-old has already contested nine events in Finland this year and has won the junior class on six occasions.

The third new face to the series is Teemu Horkama (28) from Finland and his co-driver Vesa Hakola. Horkama launched his rally career in 2005 competing in the Finnish Youth Championship and selected national rallies. The 28-year-old has stepped up to the Fiesta ST GpN this year and is competing in the Ford Flexifuel Cup (FST Sweden) in preparation for his 2008 FSTi challenge.

This vintage rally is known for its fast paced roads and impressive jumps that will launch the 2-litre Duratec-engine Fiesta STs to some incredible heights in front of the hundreds of thousands who flock to this popular event. Rally Finland will once again be based out of Jyväskylä and will offer crews 24 stages covering 340 kilometres of competitive stage distance. Conditions are forecast to be dry and hot with temperatures expected to reach 30 degrees centigrade. The eight FSTi registered crews will run numbers 94 through 101 for the event.

Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey said:
“It is fantastic to be leading the Fiesta SportingTrophy championship by eight points after two rounds this year. I am still learning a lot each rally and our plan is to go a little bit quicker on each event but keep the car in the middle of the road which is what we plan for Finland. I know I am not yet as fast as some of the top Fiesta drivers, as I said in Turkey I am going to push a bit harder in Finland and then some more in Germany and by the end of the year establish at good speed which continues to challenge for rally wins. There are some local guys joining the championship in Finland who I have heard are quite fast so I think this rally is going to see a good battle between the Fiestas. I hope to finish on the podium again here and continue the good results for my Castrol Ford Team Türkiye.”

Back To News
Ypres 2008 Finland 2008 Finland 2008 Finland 2008