Anglade snatches FSTi championship lead from Breen in Sardinia
Germany’s Patrick Anglade (21) and co-driver Björn Röhm (29) took an impressive victory in the second round of the 2009 Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) in just his second rally on gravel, beating his nearest rival by just over a minute and finishing 35th in the overall standings. With first-round winner Craig Breen absent from this round of the competition, the young German takes over at the top of the FSTi standings.

Second place went to Team Abu Dhabi driver Bader Al Jabri (24) and co-driver Stephen McAuley, picking up two stage wins along the way. They finished ahead of team mate Majed Al Shamsi (28) and co-driver Allan Harryman who took an impressive four stage wins over the weekend. Despite being plagued by mechanical problems, Russia’s Denis Grodetskiy dominated the final day’s action to earn his first points of this season’s FSTi series. But Ahmed Al Mansoori (22) was forced to withdraw on Day 2 after hitting a tree.

After the ceremonial start at the town hall in Olbia on Thursday the real action got underway on Friday morning 70km to the south-west of Service Park in Olbia as the crews tackled two passes of a three-stage loop covering 130km. The rough, rocky stages and soaring temperatures were a sign of things to come for the FSTi crews as they faced one of the most testing rallies on the WRC calendar so far this season.

Grodetskiy and co-driver Safoniy Lotko had the perfect start to his rally as he posted a fast time in the rough, dusty conditions winning SS1 Sa Conchedda ahead of Anglade and Al Jabri. Al Jabri got the better of Anglade on SS2 as the German maintained a steady pace in the dusty conditions with Al Shamsi taking third position in the stage. SS3 saw Al Jabri take his second stage win of the morning again ahead of Anglade with Al Shamsi a further 12 seconds back.

On the afternoon pass Al Shamsi edged out Al Jabri by three second to take his first stage victory on SS4 with Anglade remaining consistent in third place. The German was caught up in confusion at the start of the stage as marshals queried the three-minute gap that he was expecting between his Ford Fiesta ST and the car ahead of him, whose dust Anglade had been catching. The young German lost out and an additional minute was added to his stage time. He put that confusion behind to take his first stage win of the weekend on SS5 ahead of the Team Abu Dhabi drivers and, with the final stage of the day cancelled, Al Jabri took a 37.6 second lead over the German into Day 2.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al Mansoori with Killian Duffy (26) reading the notes led the way on Saturday morning, overcoming the rutted conditions on the Sa Linea stage to take a comfortable win over Anglade and Grodetskiy. But the Russian was again forced to retire at the end of the stage as his engine overheated. Al Shamsi took victory on SS8 ahead of Anglade who moved into the overall lead as Al Jabri finished in third place. SS8 was to witness the end of Al Mansoori’s rally following a collision with a tree. Anglade consolidated his lead with another stage victory on SS9 ahead of the Team Abu Dhabi drivers.

The young German further stretched his lead in the championship with victory on the rough and rutted second pass of Sa Linea. But it was Al Shamsi who came to the fore on the tricky forest stage Fiorentini beating team mate Al Jabri and third-placed Anglade by around one minute. But Anglade returned to winning ways on Monte Lerno, the final stage of Day 2 despite sustaining some minor damage to his exhaust on the rocky roads, to go into the final day with a 29.5 second lead over Al Jabri.

Grodetskiy returned to the action again on the final day under SupeRally conditions and again posted a stage victory on the opening stage of the day beating Anglade by 20 seconds with Al Shamsi in third. Visibility was a major problem for all crews as dust clouds hung in the damp air and, with the leading crews exercising caution in the tricky conditions, Grodetskiy took another stage victory ahead of Anglade and Al Shamsi on SS14.

Revelling in his new-found reliability, Grodetskiy won SS15 and SS16 ahead of the Team Abu Dhabi drivers as Anglade took the cautious approach to maintain his lead. Al Shamsi ended the rally on a high taking victory on the final stage.

Rally d’Italia Sardegna also saw the much-anticipated debut of M-Sport’s Fiesta R2. After it’s unveiling ahead of the rally on Wednesday night, FST International Shootout winner Matthias Boon (BEL) and Italian co-driver Massimiliano Bosi successfully completed the rally as the 00A car.

FSTi Round 2: Driver by driver
Patrick Anglade (GER) – the young German had a largely trouble-free day on Friday despite the dusty conditions and the confusion with the marshals which led to him losing a minute on the opening stage of the afternoon loop. Some solid performances on Day 2 saw him build up a lead over his competitors although he sustained some minor damage to his exhaust in the rough conditions. He held his nerve well on the rocky tracks of the final day’s stages to avoid any problems and earn a well-deserved victory. Four stage wins.

Bader Al Jabri (UAE) – the Team Abu Dhabi driver coped well with the soaring temperatures on the first day and posted some excellent times to hold the FSTi lead at the end of day one. In the rough, rutted conditions on Saturday he chose to take a cautious approach, staying out of trouble. A similar approach on Sunday earned him an excellent second place. Two stage wins.

Majed Al Shamsi (UAE) – the second of the Team Abu Dhabi drivers put the disappointment of his non-finish in Portugal behind him as he earned a podium spot and picked up four stage wins over the weekend. He also coped well with the heat and took a sensible approach to the challenging conditions avoiding any mechanical problems over the weekend. He was handed a ten-second jump-start penalty on SS16.

Denis Grodetskiy (RUS) – after a spectacular start to the event where he earned his first FSTi point, a broken radiator ended his first-day challenge. After restarting the rally again on Saturday, the Russian’s Fiesta overheated at the end of SS7 due to a technical problem that had not been rectified in the previous service and he was again forced to pull out. Day 3 saw him take four stage victories, but there was confusion on the final stage as the marshals disagreed about his start time, earning him a 20 second penalty for arriving two minutes’ late to the start. He also got caught in to the wake of a slow moving car on the final stage of the day and the dust created prevented him from completing a clean sweep of stage victories on Sunday.

Ahmed Al Mansoori (UAE) – following his excellent podium finish in Portugal, the young Team Abu Dhabi driver struggled in the challenging Sardinian conditions. He struggled to breath in the extreme heat of Friday morning and suffered a puncture 6km from the end of SS1. His engine overheated during SS2, forcing his withdrawal from Day 1. On Day 2, he took an early stage victory but then crashed into a tree on SS8 sustaining too much damage to the car to continue in the rally.

FSTi winner Patrick Anglade (21) from Germany said:
“It feels great to have won. It’s very nice to finish without any problems. It is very rough out there and it’s not easy in a small two-wheel-drive car. Friday was my favourite day and it was really good fun, but Saturday was very rough and difficult. We expected Sunday not to be rough, but it turned out to be very rough. The last two stages especially were terrible - I was under so much pressure not to make any mistakes! Every time I heard the car make a noise I wondered if it was something that would end my rally. I am very happy to be leading FSTi and I’m really looking forward to Poland now.”

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