Emre emerges Champion after fantastic Fiesta finale

The 2008 Ford Fiesta SportingTrophy International series has been won by Emre Yurdakul at this weekend's Wales Rally GB.

Yurdakul (25) from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal (24) started the event with a one point lead in the championship and sealed victory with a Rally GB win making it four wins in a row for the young Turk. Yurdakul is the third driver to be crowned as FSTi champion and is the third different nationality as the one-make championship continues to grow from strength to strength. Apart from a small off on SS11 and a few spins the youngster drove superbly to the title victory.

Castrol Ford Team Turkiye team-mates Burcu Çetinkaya (27) from Turkey and co-driver Çicek Guney (26) put in a gallant effort as they too fought for championship honours, but their second place finish put them just short of the top spot. It was shaping up to be a fierce battle until a heavy impact on SS6 saw Çetinkaya hole the sump of her Ford Fiesta ST with the oil subsequently catching fire. Fortunately though, her team of technicians did a fantastic job to repair the car and have her back out for the final two days under SupeRally regulations.

Joint third overall in the 2008 FSTi series with Joachim Muller-Wende is fellow countrymen Koray Muratoðlu (30) and co-driver Caglar Suren. Regrettably, the pair did not complete the majority of the event after being involved in a collision with another vehicle on a non-competitive liaison section between SS2 (Sweet Lamb) and SS3 (Myherin). The pair sustained non-life-threatening injuries but Muratoðlu was taken to Bronglas Hospital in Aberystwyth and Suren to Princess Royal Hospital in Shrewsbury. The team remain at the hospital with both competitors and further information on their condition will be issued in due course when more news becomes available.

Joint third overall in the FSTi series this year is Joachim Muller-Wende who unfortunately had to withdraw from the event at the last minute due to business commitments. After a great year full of top results he hopes to return to the FSTi championship in 2009.

Denis Grodetskiy (33) from Russia also lucked out to treacherous weather conditions on the opening day, breaking a cross shaft on SS3. His team did a splendid job to have the Fiesta ST fixed in time for overnight Parc Ferme, but the Russian decided not to continue due to illness and withdrew from the event.

Newcomer to the FSTi series was FST Italy champion Marko Jeram and co-driver Simon Lapajne who contested the event as a prize for winning the Italian series. Unfortunately, the luck of SS6 struck again as he was forced to retire with a broken gearbox mount after setting some impressive stage times. Despite an effort to fix the car overnight, the time window closed and the youngster was forced to retire from the event.

Brit Tom Walster (22) were due to contest the event but were excluded on 4 December due to a reconnaissance infringement. After running late the pair were 20 minutes outside the scheduled reconnaissance time for SS3/6 and were therefore excluded for breaching articles 8.1 and 8.2.1 of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship Sporting Regulations.

Thanks to Round 6 FSTi sponsors Beta, both Yurdakul and Çetinkaya will receive brand new Beta tool kits as the top-two placed finishers. Rally Travel - official championship travel partner -- also presented Yurdakul a credit-crunching prize of 500 GBP in the form of vouchers towards travel arrangements for use on any 2009 FSTi events, as the 2008 FSTi series winner. Rally Travel has been a partner of FSTi for the past three seasons and supported competitors by providing competitive deals on accommodation and other travel services such as bespoke spectator packages for team guests, family and friends.

The Pirelli tyre has again proved a winner for the Fiesta ST GpN with only minimal reports on punctures and tyre wear despite the rough and rugged terrain thrown at these competitors running down the order.

This Tuesday and Wednesday will also see the third annual FST International Shootout and it has been announced that Finnish sensation Jarkko Nikara will be entered as the FSTi series wildcard for a chance of winning one full year's work at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

2008 FSTi Champion Emre Yurdakul (25) from Turkey said:

"This is a very satisfying achievement for me because I have desired it for the whole season. After the first day, I just focused on finishing the rally because I had a very big gap to Burcu [Cetinkaya]. But it was not that easy because the conditions were very hard, I was thinking of our team-mates' [Koray Muratoglu and Caglar Suren] situation and Can [Erkal] and I both were fighting with the flu. The rally was harder than last year's Rally GB. I have to thank to my family, Can, my friends and mechanics for their support in the whole season and, of course, I have to thank to Castrol, Ford and our Teknik Motorspor team manager Serdar Bostanci for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Now I am looking forward to the FST Shootout and especially the test session with Marcus Gronholm in a Focus WRC after the Shootout."

-credit: fiestasportingtrophy.com