Fiestas fire up as championship changes hands in Catalunya
The Pirelli-supported Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi) series has seen the first change to the championship lead since Round 2 as Emre Yurdakul advances to top spot thanks to a win on this weekend’s Rally RACC Catalunya – Rally de España.

The win sees Castrol Ford Team Türkiye member Yurdakul (25) and his co-driver Can Erkal (24) take a one point advantage going into the final round of the series thanks to a faultless display of driving which saw the youngster pick up seven stage wins. The only blemish on the card for Yurdakul was a 30 second penalty that he picked up for checking in three minutes late to final service on Friday. A late scare occurred on the final stage of the rally which saw him break a driveshaft, but fortunately the youngster used his head and managed to nurse his Fiesta ST back to service without too much time to his rivals.

His win sees the year’s most consistent pair, Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney (26), slip back to second but still maintain their clean record with a points finish on every event this year. It was almost game over for Çetinkaya on Saturday after two small ‘offs’ on Stages 13 and 15 due to loose gravel that had been dragged onto the surface by front-running competitors. The 27-year-old still managed to set two fastest stage times over the weekend and will now be chasing her team-mate for overall championship victory in Wales.

Turkish driver Koray Muratoğlu (30) was joined by new co-driver Caglar Suren for the event, with regular co-driver Levent Özokutucu continuing his positive recovery from a back injury he sustained on ADAC Rallye Deutschland last month. Muratoğlu took some time to get used to his new note reader but was soon in a good battle for the leading position by Friday afternoon. The 30-year-old was looking set for a second place finish but suspension damage to the front left after an impact on the final stage of the event saw him check-in five minutes late as he limped back to final service. This gained him 50 seconds in penalties and second place to Çetinkaya. The Turkish driver also set a massive eight fastest times over the weekend proving he has the pace to push his fellow team-mates who occupy first and second in the series.

German Joachim Müller-Wende contested the event with a new co-driver, Brit Roger Burkill, and finished fourth with some solid Tarmac driving. The German driver struggled slightly to find a good rhythm between his pacenotes and the fast-paced nature of the Spanish stages, but managed to get through all 18 stages without any critical damage to his Ford Fiesta ST. This result sees Müller-Wende advance one place up the FSTi series leaderboard into fourth position.

Richard Moore of Scotland and MSA British Rally Academy co-driver Andrew Roughead (21) finished fifth Fiesta despite retiring on Friday and returning for the last two days under SupeRally regulations. Six kilometres from the end of stage 3 saw the pair’s gearbox stuck in third gear. The gearbox was changed during Friday’s midday service but, with a noise on the way out to Stage 4, Moore decided to retire his Fiesta ST so it could be fully repaired and re-entered for the final two days of competition.

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), increased their involvement in the WRC this weekend by supporting FSTi and awarding Yurdakul the Airwaves Award of a year’s supply of Airwaves chewing gum for his victory.

The next event on the Fiesta SportingTrophy International series calendar is the final round of the FSTi championship and the WRC, Wales Rally GB in December. After two exciting Tarmac rallies, the series is set to treat crews in its sixth and final round as they take on the slippery forest gravel stages in Wales.

Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey said:
“I am very, very happy to win here in Spain and to be leading the Fiesta championship now. I really enjoyed the competition with my two team-mates and the battles throughout the weekend. I didn’t push today because I had a good lead from overnight but then we got a broken drive shaft at the start of the last stage and I had to be very cautious to get the car back to service OK. I’m really pleased with the result because I don’t have much experience on Tarmac and this rally has given me a lot more, which I will take with me to the European Pirelli Star Driver competition in two weeks time, where I will be representing my country. I will be pushing hard to win this shootout in Austria and this win has given me a lot more confidence heading into it. Again I am very happy to have achieved my goal here today and now I am the new leader of the Fiesta championship.”

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