Stobart Motorsport picked up Rally Business of the Year at the annual Motorsport Industry Association Awards on Thursday night.

The Cumbrian-based rally team secured the accolade at the awards ceremony, held in conjunction with the Autosport International Show, at the NEC in Birmingham in front of 450 representatives from the motorsport and high performance engineering industries. They fought off fierce competition from more established, manufacturer-funded outfits such as Citroen, M-Sport and Prodrive.

Stobart Motorsport received the award in recognition of successfully maximising its investment in the World Rally Championship.

Despite having a budget which is a fraction of the manufacturer-backed teams, it has successfully established itself as an outstanding performer both on and off the stages. Regularly taking the fight to the bigger teams, it has become a huge fan favourite with its iconic livery and original approach to global promotion of the brand.

"It's a fantastic achievement to pick up this award especially with the high quality of nominees in our category," said Stobart Group CEO Andrew Tinkler. "Although Stobart Group is not directly involved in the automotive industry, our world rally championship participation provides us with a great opportunity to achieve global brand awareness and unrivalled networking with international businesses, potential clients and suppliers. This has helped Stobart Group maintain positive financial results and a leading edge over our rivals."

Eddie Stobart, now part of multimodal logistic providers Stobart Group, has used the World Rally Championship as a vehicle for brand awareness and business networking. Together with M-Sport and WRC driver Matthew Wilson, the team started off competing in the national British Rally Championship before stepping up to the world scene in 2006. Since then Eddie Stobart has achieved Superbrand status for the last three years.

Confirmation of Stobart Motorsport's worldwide appeal was underlined at Wales Rally GB in December when Moto GP superstar Valentino Rossi elected to compete under its banner.

While manufacturer squads such as Subaru and Suzuki have recently withdrawn from the World Rally Championship, Stobart Motorsport is looking to continue its successful presence in the series in 2009 - kicking off with Rally Ireland at the end of this month.