Yurdakul takes maiden victory on Finnish spectacular
Round 3 of the 2008 Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International series has been won by Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24) on this weekend’s Neste Oil Rally Finland - round 9 of the FIA World Rally Championship. He is the third different winner in as many events this season.

Yurdakul’s debut win sees him advance to second in the standings, just five points behind championship leader Burcu Çetinkaya (27) who put in a solid effort to finish fourth with co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) to maintain her lead.

Putting in some astonishingly quick times, which unfortunately lead to retirement from the event, was newcomer to the series Jarkko Nikara (22) from Finland and co-driver Petri Nikara (27). Nikara was the fastest Fiesta on all ten special stages on Saturday, setting times comparable with some of the leading drivers in the highly competitive Junior WRC.

These amazing stage times – which included many top-ten GpN times and a time that equalled that of J-WRC round winner Martin Prokop on stage 22 – were marred when he missed a gear on the second stage of the rally and had to retire from Day 1 with a damaged engine. His remarkably quick 11 stage wins were a fantastic achievement but an awkward landing after one of Finland’s famous ‘yumps’ damaged the suspension and they left the road on the penultimate stage of the rally retiring from the event.

Second on the event was Koray Muratoğlu (30) from Turkey, along with co-driver Levent Özokutucu (22). The pair put in a measured drive, battling through with a damaged sump on Saturday morning – another testament of the famous ‘crests’ – to achieve their best ever result in the FSTi series. The result also sees Muratoğlu move up to third on the series leaderboard.

Atte Alanen (20) from Finland and co-driver Tommi Alkula (30) were another notable crew turning heads, winning eight stages and leading the FSTi contingent until the halfway point of the rally. Unfortunately, disaster struck when he severely damaged the engine sump on a rock that was on the racing line of stage 14, having to retire for the day. Alanen finished the event in a creditable fifth in class N3 putting him sixth in the FSTi championship – all this on his first ever WRC event and just his second rally using pacenotes.

The third new crew to enter the FSTi series this weekend was Teemu Horkama (28) from Finland and his co-driver Vesa Hakola. The pair started the rallywith a tactical strategy to push on the smooth fast sections while taking a very cautious approach on the rough sections. This strategy paid off perfectly as the 28-year-old took the final step on the rostrum on his debut WRC event.

Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko began in blistering form and were leading the FSTi contenders after the opening day on Friday. The 11.38 kilometre Mökkiperä 2 test marked a momentous occasion for the Russian as he picked up his first ever FSTi stage win. Unfortunately a collision with a rock on stage 12 put him off the road and out of the event with a damaged radiator. His team then made the decision to retire from the event to preserve their Ford Fiesta ST for the next round in Germany.

First round winner, Vytautas Baranauskas (24) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (36) were unable to start the rally.

Yurdakul, by virtue of winning the Finnish round of the series, took the spoils in the ‘Expert Award’ supported by the Norwegian electrical retailer and partners of Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team driver Henning Solberg, Expert. As a result of this, Yurdakul will travel to the next round of the championship in Germany with a new Samsung digital camera as a reward for his efforts.

Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey said:
“I have been waiting the whole year for this and I’m so happy that my first win in the Fiesta SportingTrophy has come on this rally – I love Finland! My plan for this event was not too push for all of the rally, but to wait for other FSTi crews to make mistakes and let the results fall my way. This seemed to work well because we never had to push maximum or take any silly risks. From a championship point of view it is great to be in second and now I will go to Germany with a chance to take the championship lead.”

2008 standings after Neste Oil Rally Finland
1 Burcu CETINKAYA 23
2 Emre YURDAKUL 18
4 Vytautas BARANAUSKAS 10
5 Teemu HORKAMA 6
6 Atte ALANEN 4

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