The FIA European Rally Championship has attracted its latest high-profile entrant with confirmation of Castrol Ford Team Turkey’s major campaign for 2017, announced via a live stream from its base in Istanbul this evening.
Having claimed unprecedented success in the Turkish championship, Castrol Ford Team Turkey is changing up another gear this season with a two-car attack on the oldest international rally series in existence, while giving the opportunity to two young talents in the process as part of a two-year bid.
Murat Bostanci will step up to a Ford Fiesta R5 in ERC1, while Bugra Banaz will pilot a Ford Fiesta R2 in the ERC Junior Under 27 Championship having both impressed during selected ERC appearances last season. They will join forces to chase points in the revamped European Rally Championship for Teams, which is open to all registered competitors regardless of whether they are in 4WD or 2WD machinery.
Castrol Ford Team Turkey Director Serdar Bostanci said: "We’ve been planning for this for a long time and today is very important to us. We've worked hard to put this team together and we are one of the few teams that will compete in both the 2WD and 4WD categories. We believe our team can be competitive both in the drivers’ and teams’ titles with our Ford Fiesta R5 and R2T rally cars. We have committed to a two-year programme for the ERC and that gives me a lot of confidence as a team manager. We know it will be a difficult first year but I am sure we can be competitive.”
Lead driver Murat Bostanci, the son of the Team Director, said: "The ERC has a steep learning curve but I am not a total stranger to the 2017 events. I will keep calm in the first two events and push for a win from the Acropolis Rally and onwards.”
Bugra Banaz said: “This is a dream come true for me and I cannot wait to get behind the wheel in two weeks. I see that there will be big competition in Junior category and that means 2017 will be an unforgettable year in my rallying career."
In a joint statement, the senior managers of team sponsors Ford and Castrol, Ozgur Yuceturk and Kamuran Yazgan, said: “After many years of local success, we are proud to see our team heading its direction to Europe. We will be patient but also determined for success. We would like to thank all our stakeholders for the support they gave us to realise this complex project and also wish success for all international competitors. Our team will represent our corporate values of sportsmanship in their quest in the European Rally Championship.”
Jean-Baptise Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted to welcome Castrol Ford Team Turkey to the ERC and we look forward to following their progress with two young and promising drivers. With a car in 4WD and 2WD, they will be a contender for European Rally Championship for Teams.”
Founded in 1998, Castrol Ford Team Turkey is a six-time winner of the Turkish Rally Championship for Manufacturers and four-time winner of the Turkish Rally Championship for Drivers. It will contest at least the first six events of the ERC season and will enjoy the support of the following sponsors: Ford Turkey, Castrol Turkey, Pirelli Turkey, BP Turkey, Borusan Logistics, Mars Logistics, Kale Radiators, NGK Spark Plugs and Mutlu Battery Company.
Onur Vatansever and Burak Erdener will co-drive Bostanci and Banaz respectively.