Fiestas swarm on Spain for penultimate attack
The penultimate round of the Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi) series sets off next week as registered crews head to Spain for Rally RACC Catalunya – Rally de España. This fifth of six FSTi rounds is set to be an epic attack on asphalt with three crews battling for championship honours.

Following the recent announcement that Airwaves® has become the Official Chewing Gum Sponsor of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the brand (who also count Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team’s Matthew Wilson amongst their ‘Airwaves® Pro’ line-up), have increased their involvement in the WRC by supporting FSTi in Rally de España by presenting the Airwaves Award to the winner, who will receive a year’s supply of chewing gum.

As the only FSTi crew with a 100 percent finishing record, Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26) head the pack with a one-point lead in the championship. The pair will be aiming for their second win this year as competition begins to heat up with two rounds remaining. Çetinkaya has been working hard to further her asphalt abilities by contesting the latest round of the FST Belgium series and also testing her Ford Fiesta ST with Junior World Rally Championship star Kris Meeke.

Nipping at the heels of the championship leaders is fellow Castrol Ford Team Türkiye member Emre Yurdakul (25) and his co-driver Can Erkal (24). The pair have been in scintillating form of late with two consecutive FSTi victories in Finland and Germany to accompany their second place finish on Round 2 in Turkey. It will be no easy feat for the youngster contesting this event for the first time in his career but a victory would see him catapult into the series lead heading into the final round in Wales.

Third placed championship runner Koray Muratoğlu (30) will be joined by new co-driver Caglar Suren with regular co-driver Levent Özokutucu continuing his positive recovery from a back injury he sustained in Germany last month. Muratoğlu too will contest the event for the first time but will not be holding back as he also has a chance of winning the 2008 FSTi series crown.

After an impressive second place finish on his home event last month, Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany will contest the event with a new co-driver, Brit Roger Burkill. Müller-Wende will be looking to advance up the championship standings in which he currently lies fifth. Once again on his preferred surface, the German will be pushing for another podium finish, this time on Spanish Tarmac.

Richard Moore of Scotland will contest the event again alongside a member of the MSA British Rally Academy in co-driver Andrew Roughead (21). Roughead was chosen for the seat by M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson who was asked by the training scheme organisers to select an Academy member to offer invaluable WRC experience to one of Britain’s rising young stars. Moore currently lies seventh in the championship with a mathematical chance of finishing third at the end of the season.

Russian Denis Grodetskiy and navigator Safoniy Lotko will make their asphalt debut in the Fiesta ST next week after missing ADAC Rally Deutschland due to personal commitments. Grodetskiy, with limited experience on the sealed surface, will be hoping for his first FSTi finish after posting some impressive times over the first three rounds this year.

Rally Spain will cover 353.62 kilometres of competitive distance over 18 high-speed Tarmac stages as competition kicks off with a ceremonial start in Salou at 20.00 on Thursday night. The event is again based in the Catalonian region of Spain with HQ and Service Park held in the seaside town of Salou. Roads are typically fast flowing but can become extremely slippery, especially for crews running down the order, as big cuts begin to establish, throwing dirt and loose gravel onto the surface. These big cuts will be something all FSTi crews will need to be cautious of as they caused several punctures for competitors last year.

Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey
“I will be pushing hard on this rally because I really want to win. Our times have improved a lot since the beginning of the year, but realistically we are still slightly behind our team-mates in stage times, so we will try to concentrate harder and get closer and pass them. I was pretty weak on asphalt in the beginning, but we have been working hard on it. I did the Omloop Rally in Belgium in the Fiesta last week and a two-day test session with Kris Meeke, so I hope to take the most out of what I was trying to learn and try to push more in Spain compared to Germany.

“The only thing I know of the Catalan roads is what I have seen on video; I haven’t experience anything similar to the Spanish roads because the asphalt in Turkey is very loose with no grip and Belgium has typically tight roads full of T-junctions. The Fiesta will be very good, but I think we will need to be careful with the tyres as there are a lot of cuts in Spain that can cause punctures. My goal for this event is to finish in front of Emre [Yurdakul] and hold my lead in the championship.”

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