M-Sport has its 'Boon' at the FST Shootout
Ford Fiesta SportingTrophy Belgium 'wildcard' Matthias Boon has been crowned the 2008 FST International Shootout champion. The 19-year-old Belgian won the prestigious title against 17 outstanding finalists, being picked out of the bunch by M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson and double FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm.
As his prize for winning the Shootout, Boon receives one of the greatest opportunities and development prizes in world class rallying: one year's work experience and training at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. He is the third wildcard to be selected in as many years.
This year's Shootout invited first and one wildcard, from each national FST championship to compete over two days for the overall prize. The Shootout began on Tuesday with the group tested on three crucial elements within the sport: physical, psychological and media. Part two of the competition took all 18 drivers into M-Sport's Greystoke Forest for the next major test - driving ability. Following the driving, Wilson and Gronholm selected five drivers for the final test: a one-to-one interview to prove why they should be selected as this year's winner.
Along with Boon and Hall, three other outstanding achievers we selected into the final five. Australian Brendan Reeves from the FST New Zealand series travelled some distance to Cumbria for the event and was truly a star competitor as he led the field after the non-driving elements tested on day one. He will now be able to head home with a huge amount of international experience and exposure knowing he performed at a world class level.
2008 FSTi runner-up Burcu Çetinkaya was also selected thanks to her consistent overall performance. She posted the top result in the psychological test and was joint highest in the media interview section, which impressed judges as she became the first female to reach the top five contenders in FST International Shootout history.
Also selected for the final interview was Swede Patrick Johansson who had a strong Shootout over the two days. His times set today in the Ford Fiesta ST were extremely promising and his whole attitude towards participating in the Shootout is what saw him become one of the finalists for the win.
Today's driving element of the Shootout was one of the toughest tests any of these competitors are likely to encounter. True Cumbrian winter weather saw clear blue skies but lethal sheet ice covering the roads meaning crews had to be on the ball both ability-wise and mentally and many were caught out by the extremely slippery conditions. This, however, also differentiated the good from the best, as the smart, cautious approach through the icy sections proved to be the most beneficial.
Boon will also receive an early Christmas present for winning this year's FST International Shootout when he gets the chance to jump behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS WRC tomorrow. The youngster will test with Gronholm lending advice in what is an amazing way to start a new era of life in rallying with M-Sport and the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
2008 FST International Shootout champion Matthias Boon said:
"I am the happiest person in the world right now! This is such a fantastic opportunity and words just cannot describe how I am feeling right now. I would like to thank my team from FST Belgium and everyone here who has helped me win this prize. These were the hardest conditions I have ever driven today and only my first time on gravel so it was great to be able to show some speed for the judges. I will now focus on giving 100% when I begin working at M-Sport in 2009."
2008 FST International Shootout Judge Marcus Gronholm said:
"It was fun to be involved in the Ford Fiesta Shootout this year and for me it was very difficult to decide the winner. Matthias impressed me because he has only done eight rallies in his career and this was his first ever on gravel, so just to keep it on the road in the icy conditions was a big achievement. Kris was a winner also and he set some fantastic times; he will get some support from M-Sport next year, which he deserves. But there could only be one winner and Matthias had a very good head on his shoulders and he said the right things to every question we asked him."
M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
"This has certainly been the most difficult decision to make out of the three Shootouts but Matthias was outstanding and to think he has only contested eight rallies in his career is amazing. Kris was the quickest guy out there and scored highly on all areas which made the decision such a difficult one. I will have to look at the structure for next year but for sure we will offer support to Kris [Hall] in some way for his achievements over the past two days. Matthias was something special and despite this being his first time driving on gravel he knew exactly where he was losing time on the stage today and to be able to diagnose this with his limited experience is incredible. He will now join the team from the start of 2009 at M-Sport and will be heading to Rally Ireland for his on-event duties with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team's weather and safety department. With his mechanical knowledge it will be interesting also to see how he develops in the workshop helping build the Ford Focus RS WRC."