The Fiesta Sporting Trophy Ireland series will run with a new format in 2009, it has been confirmed.
Under it Fiesta crews will now start the events on day one - seeded within the international field.
"The Fiesta event will run for the first day (or first 120 kilometres approx) of the event, ending at a convenient place at which point the times from all registered Fiesta crews are extrapolated into a set of results and are declared final," explained a statement to the media.
"The major difference for 2009 is that any crew that has entered the full event under the normal entry procedure, under the International permit, who wishes too, can then carry on and compete in the remainder of the rally. This allows them to not only score points within the Fiesta SportTrophy but also within the ITC."
This format will apply to five of the six events, with the exception of the Donegal Rally, which like in 2008 will see registered crews competing on day two of the event only.
"After a second exciting year in the Irish championship we have taken into consideration helpful feedback from teams in an effort to make this year's series even more successful," said M-Sport development manager, Andrew Wheatley.
"We have kept the classic tarmac rallies and tried to allow competitors that want to move forward with the ST the chance - as they can now enter the full international event and still score FST points. It should be a very exciting year."
"We hope that our modified format will attract new and old competitors from Ireland and some more of the crews over from the UK to experience the fantastic atmosphere and close competition that the Irish championship has to offer," added FST IE co-ordinator, Richard Millener.
"After some stunning results by competitors in 2008 it will also be very interesting to see how some of our competitors fair within the Irish Tarmac Championship. The year should be incredibly thrilling."
The winner of the FST IE series meanwhile will walk away with a funded drive on the final round of the Belgium Rally Championship, The Condroz Rally in November 2009 in a new Fiesta R2. The championship victor, plus one wild card, will also get a chance to compete in the 'FST International Shoot-Out', which will take place at M-Sport in December 2009.
The full six-round FST IE schedule, again based around the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, is as follows:
Galway International Rally
Killarney Rally of the Lakes
Donegal International Rally
Ulster International Rally
Cork '20' International Rally