Fiesta SportTrophy International champion Craig Breen completed a near-perfect season as he took victory in the FST International Shootout this week.
Breen beat off strong competition to take the prestigious title and take his tally of victories for the season to six after becoming FSTi champion, Kick Energy FST UK champion, FST Ireland champion, Irish Junior Rally champion as well as winning the Billy Coleman Award in his home country.
The prize on offer to the winner of the Shootout is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain hands-on experience at a top level World Rally team. A 12-month employment contract with M-Sport, an apartment at the Dovenby Hall HQ and the provision of a road car are all part of Breen's reward.
He will have the chance to experience working in a number of different areas of the company, travelling to the European WRC events with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, attending press functions and driving at PR events.
While Breen had been one of the favourites to take the coveted title he faced stiff opposition over the two-day competition.
The 16 competitors' who had qualified for the Shootout based on their performances in FST championships around the globe, faced a series of physical and psychological tests as well as an assessment of their media skills before embarking on the final driving challenge, a three kilometre stage in the GpN Fiesta ST at M-Sport's Greystoke Forest.
With all of their scores tallied, the competitors were whittled down to the final five candidates who were interviewed by M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson OBE.
Breen, who posted the best time in the driving challenge, was joined in the final five by four outstanding competitors who all merited a chance to face the final interview after a series of strong performances over the two days - namely FSTi wildcard entry Patrick Anglade, Northern Ireland's Mark Donnelly, Swede Mattias Wennman and Cedric de Cecco from Belgium.
Anglade, the FSTi runner up, who led the championship until the final round in Wales, produced strong and consistent performances throughout the two-day challenge earning a good result in the media skills test and matching his rival Breen in the fitness test.
Donnelly excelled on the fitness test on day one posting the leading score and followed up that performance with consistently strong results over all of the next disciplines, including the stages in Greystoke where he trailed Breen's time by just three tenths.