The Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy will run alongside the MSA British Rally Championship this year, it has been announced.
As such of the seven mixed surface events that will make up the schedule, five are on the BRC bill - namely the Bulldog Rally, the Pirelli, the Manx, the Ulster and the Trackrod - while the exceptions will be the Malcolm Wilson Rally, which will kick off proceedings in early March, and the RSAC Scottish Rally in June.
A statement to the media by FST series promoters, M-Sport added:
“On all rounds except the Malcolm Wilson Rally and the RSAC Scottish Rally (where the full rally will be contested), FST crews have the option to enter one of two events - either the full BRC International event or a shorter event, which runs within the National B BRC Challenge Rally.
“All registered FST competitors in the International event will be seeded within the main field and start at the beginning of the rally. All competitors running in the BRC Challenge event will start immediately after the International field.
“At the completion of the BRC challenge event, the FST event will be declared over. At this point, a set of results including all registered FST crews (from both the Challenge and International event) will be extrapolated to give a set of FST championship results.
“The International competitors may then carry on and complete the remainder of this event making them eligible for overall BRC class and prize awards.
“This new multi level format will allow competitors on varying budgets to enter an event to suit them.”
In addition the prizes were also confirmed and the FST will again have a prize fund in excess of £18,000, with £750 for the winner of each round down to £75 for eighth place.
The winner at the end of the series will have the opportunity to compete on the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge - The UK RAC MSA Rally of Scotland - too in an M-Sport prepared Fiesta R2 rally car.
Moreover the top finisher in the championship as well as one 'wildcard' will have the opportunity to compete in the FST International Shootout with a chance to win a year's placement with M-Sport, while the highest placed FST and BRC registered junior driver will receive an automatic nomination for the 2009 Pirelli Star Driver competition.
M-Sport business development manager, Andrew Wheatley is confident that the changes made for 2009 are a step in the right direction.
“The success of the FST over the last three years has been fantastic, close competition with a good atmosphere between the crews. After three great years we asked the competitors what they want and it was clear that one format would not suit everyone and so we are hoping this move to the British Rally Championship will allow us to give the crews what they want. It should be an exciting fourth year,” he predicted.
BRC manager, Mark Taylor meanwhile is delighted to see the FST and BRC join forces: “It's fantastic that the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy now runs alongside the British Rally Championship, affording it to the profile it richly deserves and gives an opportunity for it's competitors to compete on some of the best rallies in the UK,” he summed-up.