2010 Junior World Rally Champion Aaron Burkart will join the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team for next week's Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round in the 2011 World Rally Championship.
The German, who goes into his home event fresh from a podium finish on last weekend's ADAC Rally Wartburg, where he piloted a Ford Fiesta S2000, is feeling confident ahead of his debut in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC car.
Indeed the 27-year-old, who will be partnered by fellow countryman André Kachel and who will conduct a pre-event test this weekend, has said he would like to get on the podium on what will be his 37th outing at the top level, albeit only his second in a World Rally Car.
“I can't wait for next week but I'm starting to feel a little nervous now too,” he commented. “It's such an amazing opportunity to drive a World Rally Car and on my home event it is really something special. I'd like to finish on the podium but I'm aware that there's 20 World Rally Cars in Germany so it's not going to be an easy task.
“We've got a test in the car over the weekend so we need to make sure we find the right set-up so we are as well prepared as we can be.
“We've had some good results in the Ford Fiesta S2000 already this year but I know that the Fiesta RS WRC has a lot more power so we need to take this into account when first getting to grips with the car.”
Burkart will be joined on the event by M-Sport Stobart Ford regulars, Mads Ostberg and Matt Wilson, both nominated to score manufacturers' points, and Henning Solberg. Henning will be the only M-Sport Stobart driver who will not test the Fiesta RS WRC prior to the event but the Norwegian has plenty of experience on his side as next week's event will mark the ninth time he has contested it.
“We need to collect points and the aim is for a good result next week,” added Henning. “The best way for me to achieve this is to concentrate on improving my performance from last year when I competed in the Fiesta S2000 and to get closer to the top guys' times on asphalt.
“I like the more open road stages like there are in Germany but find it difficult on the military ranges. I need to feel the car flowing and on those stages it is very stop and start and you can't really get into a good rhythm.
“Rallye Deutschland is like three different rallies in three days over different types of stages and each with their own unique challenges. As always the weather here can also make a big difference.”