The Fiesta SportTrophy International reaches its thrilling climax at the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Wales with two drivers battling for supremacy in the hotly contested one-make series.
Germany's Patrick Anglade and Irishman Craig Breen enter into the sixth and final round of the competition locked in a gripping battle for the overall title.
Anglade currently leads the championship after victories at Rally d'Italia Sardegna and Rally Poland, but Breen, who kicked off the season with a win at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, has fought back in the second half of the season, taking to the top step of the podium at Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Overall victory in FSTi would complete a hat trick of FST victories this season for the County Kilkenny teenager and co-driver Gareth Roberts, adding the FSTi title to the FST Ireland and Kick Energy FST UK titles already under his belt. However, Anglade currently tops the FSTi table with 143 points, 34 points ahead of Breen, having completed two more rallies than the Irishman.
The FSTi scoring system allows all drivers to drop their worst two scores at the end of the year, with only their four best scores counting towards the title, meaning that, in reality, the gap between the two rivals in much smaller. With one point earned for each stage win on top of the points for overall position, there are a maximum of 46 points on offer to either driver. Breen however, must finish in order to take the championship.
Adding an extra element of interest to an already fascinating battle is the fact that Breen will be behind the wheel of the new Fiesta R2 while Anglade and co-driver Peter Loth will be in the familiar Fiesta ST that the German has driven all season. With the R2 expected to be around 1.5sec/km faster on the Welsh gravel than the Fiesta ST, Breen could hold the trump card. But Anglade has relatively more experience in the ST and will hope his tactic of putting his faith in the tried and tested car will pay dividends.
"In Spain we saw that the Fiesta R2 is much faster than the Fiesta ST,” Anglade said. “Nevertheless, we were able to keep some of them behind us. This was not a bad start at all, but the stages in Wales are quite difficult and we have to give our best. At Rally GB especially, a mistake can occur quickly; we want to use the chances we are given. Even if the ST is not as fast as the R2, we still want to fight.
“In contrast to Craig [Breen], two of our results have to be dropped since we had taken part in all six FSTi legs, so at least we have a 'cushion' of points - Craig definitely has to finish the rally or he will not have enough results to win the championship."
While Anglade and Breen are the only two drivers competing for the overall title, they will be ably supported in what is sure to be an exciting rally by six entrants looking to stamp their mark on the competition before the end of the season.