Dual FSTi and J-WRC championship opportunity for Ford Fiesta R2

The Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for its fifth successive year in April 2010 and will again be supported by Pirelli. The great news is that drivers under the age of 28 years will be able to register for the Junior WRC (J-WRC) in addition to FSTi and will be eligible to score points towards the J-WRC, the Rookie Trophy and FSTi.

The FST concept was previously based around the GpN Ford Fiesta ST and, whilst this will remain eligible for FSTi, the primary championship contender will be the Ford Fiesta R2. With a five-speed sequential gearbox, the Ford Fiesta R2 is based on the Ford Fiesta Sport using the 1.6L Ti-Vct 120PS (1598cc) base engine as in regular production. It is built from a standard conversion kit developed by M-Sport and has won its class on both the WRC events that it has entered to date.

Ford Fiesta SportTrophy International

M-Sport established the one-make FSTi championship in 2006 and, while the general concept remains the same, the improvements made in 2009 to the incentive package and scoring system are carried over into 2010.

The prize for the championship winner will be an all-expenses-paid test in the newly developed Ford Fiesta S2000 with BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver and 2009 world championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen, with the chance to discuss the test with the flying Finn and M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE. A prize fund is also available from which the winner of each rally will receive a GBP1,500 M-Sport voucher.

There is also the chance for those who do not achieve championship glory but who have entered at least five events to test the Ford Fiesta S2000. As in previous years, the series winner plus one 'wildcard' will be put forward to the FST International Shootout to compete against drivers from other FST championships around the world in order to win a year's residential contract to work at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Of the seven counting rounds, the best points from five rounds will count towards the championship standings. This will allow those drivers who have completed the full season to drop any low scores, but will also assist those drivers who are only able to compete on an event-by-event basis to score highly overall if they achieve good results on an occasional basis.

The 2009 scoring system will continue into 2010: one point will be awarded for every stage win in order to reward outright pace and, with between 16 and 24 stages per rally, these will be points worth fighting for. A win will still be given maximum credit and points will be offered 30-25-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10 for first to tenth position.

Junior World Rally Championship

Alongside FSTi, the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) is a cost-effective and highly competitive support series within the WRC in which drivers up to the age of 28 have the opportunity to display their talent in front of the manufacturer teams and a global television audience.

The criteria for the J-WRC Rookie Trophy has been simplified and any driver entering in an R2 car is now eligible. This means that a driver wishing to enter both FSTi and the J-WRC may do so with the added benefits of Priority 3 seeding, inclusion in the extensive J-WRC media package, an additional 40m2 service area, as well as the chance to score points for both championships.

The J-WRC benefits from a dedicated media service, which provides reports and information to event organizers, team managers, senior FIA and International Sportsworld Communications (ISC) personnel and a global media database containing in excess of 4,000 journalists.

A highlights programme devoted to the J-WRC is produced and distributed around the world. In 2008, the daily news bulletins and Rally World reports were aired by 51 channels in 214 territories.*

Two J-WRC drivers are also invited to attend the official pre-event FIA Press Conference, putting them directly in contact with the world's rally media.

FSTi and J-WRC Packages

As part of a support package offered by championship promoter ISC, the FSTi and J-WRC teams can enjoy a dedicated service area within the WRC Service Park. The hub is a communications centre, which gives computer access to the WRC tracking system and live results -- to which all FSTi cars are linked. A hospitality unit provides food and refreshments for all drivers, co-drivers, mechanics and sponsors during each day of a rally and the quality of the meals makes it a favourite dining venue for members of the FIA, media and other VIPs.

M-Sport works closely with ISC, which has put together a benefits package for FSTi based on the successful J-WRC and P-WRC model that includes the following services:

- Payment of event entry fees
- Split times on all stages and tracking service for FSTi registered competitors
- Set-up of a dedicated service area for FSTi competitors with utilities including electricity and water
- Tented service area, approx 60m2
- Catering for 7 people per entry in the FSTi hospitality area
- 7 Event passes
- Physio and medical support from a first aid unit in the service park
- A dedicated media service including copyright free photography
- Services and support of the FSTi Co-ordinator
- Technical assistance from an M-Sport technician
- Pre- and on-event parts supply

The cost for the ISC package is GBP4,500 payable approximately six weeks prior to each event plus GBP300** Registration Fee payable to M-Sport, which includes an invitation for driver and co-driver to the Ford WRC Happy Hour to meet Ford drivers and management, as well as international media representatives.

For those drivers wishing to upgrade to the J-WRC, a one-off Registration Fee of GBP1,390 is payable to the FIA at the start of the season plus the FSTi Registration Fee of GBP300** per event. The ISC service package is available for the cost of GBP6,250 per event and includes the FSTi benefits package listed above plus:

-       Inclusion in the J-WRC media and TV package

- Priority 3 seeding
- Tented service area, approx 100m2

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport Managing Director said: "The FSTi championship is entering into its fifth year now and the standard of driving seems to get higher and higher as the years go by. I think this was well illustrated last year by the level of competition led by Craig Breen, who gathered an astounding six titles to his name in 2009 -- his FSTi rivals certainly didn't make it easy for him! The new Fiesta R2 was tested on WRC events in Spain and Great Britain this year -- winning its class on both occasions -- so I personally look forward to seeing its performance in the hands of the right driver for a full WRC championship campaign."

*Latest available figures **FSTi Registration Fee = GBP300 per event or GBP1,800 for seven events

-credit: fiestasporttrophy.com