Matthias Boon, Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy driver is the 2008 FST International Shootout Champion after the 19-year old from Belgium beat 17 other finalists at the selection event in UK. Malcolm Wilson and Marcus Gronholm were judging the event. >
Winners of the National FST Championships were invited for the event this year along with wild card entries for the event which began on Tuesday with a series of physical and psychological tests as well as a mock interview with the media. The second day saw the contestants take part in M-Sport’s Greystoke Forest where they were judged on their driving skills over three stages.
Kriss Hall, from Britain, was the fastest on each stage and he joined Boon, Burcu Cetinkaya, Patrick Johansson and Brendan Reeves for the five shortlisted finalists. These finalists were subsequently part of a one-to-one interview to explain their reasons for why they thought they were the chosen ones this year.
Boon won the overall event and gets one year’s working experience and training at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. He will also get a test drive on the Ford Focus RS WRC with Gronholm providing key points to note.
“I am the happiest person in the world right now!” said Boon. “This is such a fantastic opportunity and words just cannot describe how I am feeling right now. I would like to thank my team from FST Belgium and everyone here who has helped me win this prize. These were the hardest conditions I have ever driven today and only my first time on gravel so it was great to be able to show some speed for the judges. I will now focus on giving 100% when I begin working at M-Sport in 2009.”
Marcus Gronholm said: “It was fun to be involved in the Ford Fiesta Shootout this year and for me it was very difficult to decide the winner. Matthias impressed me because he has only done eight rallies in his career and this was his first ever on gravel, so just to keep it on the road in the icy conditions was a big achievement. Kris was a winner also and he set some fantastic times; he will get some support from M-Sport next year, which he deserves. But there could only be one winner and Matthias had a very good head on his shoulders and he said the right things to every question we asked him.”
“This has certainly been the most difficult decision to make out of the three Shootouts but Matthias was outstanding and to think he has only contested eight rallies in his career is amazing.” said Malcolm Wilson “Kris was the quickest guy out there and scored highly on all areas which made the decision such a difficult one. I will have to look at the structure for next year but for sure we will offer support to Kris in some way for his achievements over the past two days. Matthias was something special and despite this being his first time driving on gravel he knew exactly where he was losing time on the stage today and to be able to diagnose this with his limited experience is incredible. He will now join the team from the start of 2009 at M-Sport and will be heading to Rally Ireland for his on-event duties with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team’s weather and safety department. With his mechanical knowledge it will be interesting also to see how he develops in the workshop helping build the Ford Focus RS WRC.”