*Istanbul-based squad in three-way battle for prestigious FIA title
*Tweaked three-driver line-up boosts chances of success
*ACCR Czech Team and Opel Rallye Junior Team also in the mix
Castrol Ford Team Turkey has altered its line-up for Rally Liepāja as it goes all-out to win the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, which has been streamlined for this season with one trophy up for grabs rather than separate titles in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3.
The Istanbul squad has enjoyed a standout ERC season and heads to the Latvian finale this week with a 17-point advantage over the ACCR Czech Team. Opel Rallye Junior Team is third in the table, 14 points adrift of its rivals from the Czech Republic motorsport federation. While it can’t claim the title, LOTOS Rally Team can still snatch third place from Opel Rallye Junior Team with its single-car entry for Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the double European champion.
Under ERC rules, each outfit nominates a maximum of three registered drivers in cars of either four- or two-wheel drive configuration or a combination of both, to score points on each event. The results of the two highest-placed cars from a team will count, with teams tallying their best six scores from eight.
And with points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive classifications, a team could score a maximum of 50 points per event with a top score of 25 on offer in 4WD and also up for grabs in 2WD.
Castrol Ford Team Turkey has run drivers in both 4WD and 2WD machinery this season but has entered three drivers in two-wheel-drive Ford Fiestas in Latvia with Murat Bostanci dropping down from his regular Fiesta R5 to the R2 equivalent. The outfit has also brought back Ümitcan Özdemir to the fold to partner team regulars Bostanci and Buǧra Banaz.
With ACCR Czech Team and Opel Rallye Junior each relying on two drivers (Dominik Brož/Filip Mareš and Chris Ingram/Tamara Molinaro respectively), Castrol Ford Team Turkey’s tactical change could prove to be inspired as squad head Serdar Bostanci explained.
“We made a significant strategy change for the final round of the championship. We are entering three cars in ERC3, including Murat Bostanci who will compete with a Ford Fiesta R2T instead of his regular R5 car. This is due to the tight competition in the Teams’ championship classification. We really want to win the title this year.”
While Castrol Ford Team Turkey has the coveted FIA title firmly in its sights, Bostanci Sr admitted championship success won’t be its only focus in Latvia. “On another note, we feel very proud that we’ve been able to compete with the top teams in Europe. I believe being a part of this championship is even more important than winning the title. Regardless of the result that we’ll get on 8 October, we’ve had an excellent year.”
Murat Bostanci said: “I feel very motivated to be back in an ERC3 car to support my team winning the Teams’ title. I am truly focused to deliver a good result in a class as that is as competitive as the outright classification. My team made the right decision to register me with a two-wheel-drive car. I’ve done this event last year and enjoyed it very much. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of my Fiesta R2T.”
Jean-Bapitste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, added: “It’s great news and really exciting the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams will be decided at the final round between three teams. It also vindicates our decision to streamline the championship for this year by awarding one title rather than titles for each of the three ERC categories.”