A record number of registered entrants will take part in the fourth round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy International series, the ADAC Rally Deutschland.
Already this season the series has seen three different winners in as many events as competition begins to heat up with just three rounds remaining, and ten drivers will take part in the German event as they battle for the prize of tuition with former WRC champion Marcus Grönholm in a Ford Focus RS WRC.
Burcu Çetinkaya from Turkey and co-driver Çiçek Güney currently lead the championship by five points over team-mates Emre Yurdakul from Turkey and his co-driver Can Erkal. Çetinkaya has been the most consistent of all FSTi drivers scoring on every event this year, which included a win on her home event in Turkey. Contesting the FST Belgium this year – a predominantly Tarmac championship – will put her in good stead ahead of the first Tarmac FSTi round in Germany.
“Germany is going to be a big test for me as there are a few Belgian guys coming who are going to be very fast,” she said. “I used to be quite weak on tarmac, so last year I contested the Belgian FST, along with FST Turkey, and this year again I have done two of the three rounds in the Belgian championship, so hopefully this will put me in good shape for Germany with the experience I have gained on tarmac.
“Our aim for this rally is to try and keep the gap in the championship lead and increase our speed from the previous event. But there are ten crews in Germany so there are going to be some good battles during the rally.”
After a DNF on round one, Yurdakul struck back with a second in Turkey and, more recently, a rally win on the high-speed stages of Finland. Fellow countryman and Castrol Ford Team Türkiye members Koray Muratoðlu and co-driver Levent Özokutucu have come right back into contention after a solid second place in Finland, advancing them to third in the championship.
Lithuanians Vytautas Baranauskas and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius are also in a position to take the championship despite not starting the Finnish event. Baranauskas is the only FSTi competitor in the field to have contested Rally Germany before. Round two entrant Joachim Müller-Wende from Germany and his new co-driver Umberto Calamida rejoin the FSTi race for their home event and will be hoping to utilise their local knowledge to good effect next week.
Denis Grodetskiy from Russia and co-driver Safoniy Lotko are in for a whole new experience as they enter their fourth FSTi round this year. Grodetskiy, despite his wealth of rally knowledge, has never driven on tarmac before.
Four new crews will be joining the regular FSTi contingent in Germany, three of whom reside in Belgium, which has a strong tarmac championship. The most experienced of the group and currently second in the Belgian FST series is Anthony Martin and co-driver Eric Borguet. Martin was also selected to represent Belgium in the 2007 Fiesta SportingTrophy International Shootout at M-Sport last December, where he was selected as one of the five finalists to be judged for overall victory.