FSTi faces tough Sardinian challenge
The second round of the 2009 Fiesta SportTrophy International moves to the Mediterranean next week as the series returns to Rally d’Italia Sardegna for the fourth consecutive year. With first-round victor Craig Breen concentrating on his British Rally Championship campaign, there will be a new face on the winner’s rostrum this time as Germany’s Patrick Anglade and Denis Grodetskiy from Russia take on Team Abu Dhabi drivers Ahmed Al Mansoori, Majed Al Shamsi and Bader Al Jabri.

Round 1 winner Breen set a blistering pace in Portugal finishing 25th in the overall classification and equalling Barry Clark’s record-breaking finish. Anglade also put in a strong performance in the opening round of the competition and will be gunning for victory this time around.

The Fiesta SportTrophy International, supported by Pirelli, gives the competitors a chance to experience rallying at international level, pitting themselves against the best drivers in the world. The championship winner will receive an all-expenses-paid test in the latest specification Ford Focus RS WRC with Ford factory driver Mikko Hirvonen and the chance to discuss the test over dinner with the flying Finn and M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson. A prize fund has also been introduced and the winner of each rally will receive a €1,500 M-Sport voucher.

The FSTi competitors will be among the 60 entrants in the rally who will take on the picturesque stages to the south-west of the Service Park at Olbia. The tree-lined stages are often strewn with large rocks causing hazards to be avoided for the crews. Day 2 includes two new stages (as well as the longest of the rally), Monte Lerno, which features one of the most famous jumps on the WRC calendar. On the final day, the crews will head north towards the Costa Smeralda before mounting the finish ramp in the millionaire’s playground of Porto Cervo.

German Patrick Anglade (21), competing with co-driver Björn Röhm (29), is on a steep learning curve after completing his first ever gravel rally at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal last month. It was also his first WRC event outside his home country, so he will be putting the experience gained in Portugal to good use on the fast, sandy stages in Sardinia.

Denis Grodetskiy and co-driver Safoniy Lotko had their challenge in Portugal ended by an oil leak on the final day of the rally. The Russian, as the most experienced FSTi campaigner, will be looking to put that disappointment behind him as he returns to Sardinia for a second time by putting his extra experience to good use and claiming his first points of the season.

Ahmed Al Mansoori (22) was the best placed of the Abu Dhabi finishers in Portugal earning a stage victory on his way to third place. He will again be teaming up with Irish co-driver Killian Duffy (26) as he looks to score more good points for Team Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi team mates Bader Al Jabri (24) and Majed Al Shamsi (28) both crashed out midway through the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, rolling their Ford Fiesta STs on a tricky section of road. Both drivers are relatively new to the sport and are gaining valuable experience all the time with the help from their respective co-drivers Allan Harryman and Steve McAuley.

Rally d’Italia Sardegna will also be host to the much anticipated launch of the Fiesta R2. The car will be launched at an exclusive media event before the rally and will then run on the stages as the 000 car before the WRC cars, driven by 2008 FST International Shootout winner Belgian Matthias Boon (19) and navigated by J-WRC regular Italian Massimiliano Bosi.

Patrick Anglade (21) from Germany said:
“Coming second in Portugal was the ideal start of the season and, naturally, we would like to get another good placement in Sardinia. I enjoy racing and the break between the Rally de Portugal and the Rally d'Italia is quite long – I really miss it and I’m hungry for more! Physical fitness is my only way of preparation, since commitments besides the FSTi and the tests would blow our budget. Furthermore, there are several weeks left until the next FSTi round in Poland, so I need to enjoy and make use of every single rally kilometre. It is great that I do not have to take charge of the organization of the event since we are perfectly supported and cared for by the FSTi package. So I get to have a level head and can fully concentrate on the stages.”

FSTi Driver Goals (Rally d’Italia Sardegna)
Patrick Anglade (GER) – following a promising first round performance on his first ever gravel rally in Portugal, the young German is aiming to increase his gravel experience and will be going all out for victory in Sardinia.

Denis Grodetskiy (RUS) – after the disappointment of failing to finish in Portugal, Grodetskiy will be keen to make his mark on this year’s driver standings by challenging for the win and gathering points by winning stages.

Ahmed Al Mansoori (UAE) – with a stage victory in Portugal already under his belt, Al Mansoori is determined to pick up more points in Sardinia.

Bader Al Jabri (UAE) – his rally might have ended early in Portugal, but the Team Abu Dhabi driver showed good pace and will be aiming for a place on the podium.

Majed Al Shamsi (UAE) – another driver with the pace to challenge for a podium position. Al Shamsi will be hoping to add to the Team Abu Dhabi presence in the points in Sardinia.

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