Asphalt Switch Opens Up DMACK Fiesta Competition

Asphalt Switch Opens Up DMACK Fiesta Competition

After three exciting rounds, where a number of drivers have been battling for victory, the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy switches surfaces for the only all-asphalt round at Rallye Deutschland next week. Round four of the trophy could spring some surprises with a number of asphalt aces planning to charge as they chase rallying’s top prize of a full season in the 2015 FIA WRC 2 Championship.

Runaway series leader Sander Pärn has excelled on gravel on his way to claiming wins on all three rounds to date. But his grasp at the top of the standings could come under threat. The move to asphalt creates the ideal opportunity for Tarmac drivers such as Frenchman Quentin Gilbert, Spaniard Yeray Lemes and Belgium’s Ghislain de Mevius to up their game and claw back some points.

Lemes is third in the title race and a strong showing from either him or second-placed Brit Tom Cave could see them catapult up the championship table and set up a final-round showdown for the title. Cave has been closest to Pärn all season but broken suspension last time out at Rally Finland saw him slip down the order.

But Pärn has only contested four events on Tarmac and both Gilbert and Cave have signaled their intentions to take the fight to the Estonian as the championship title goes down to the wire. Pärn, who contested Rallye Wartburg last weekend, has a lead of 37 points over Cave and, with a maximum of 43 points on offer next weekend, it’s all to play for.

Finland’s Max Vatanen leads the Rookie runners but he’s not got much experience on asphalt. He and the other Deutschland debutants Szymon Kornicki, Nil Solans and Nicolas Amiouni are likely to find the event quite a challenge next weekend. It’s been a crazy season so far for Leo Urlichich. The Canadian lines-up next week with his fourth co-driver in four events after failing to start Rally Finland when Darren Garrod sustained a back injury in testing. British navigator Michael Gilbey will guide Urlichlich in Germany.

Both José Suárez and Marius Aasen won’t take the start next week – the pair deciding to withdraw from the trophy. The 10 remaining registered runners will be joined by a record seven additional Shoot-Out entries competing in their own cars on DMACK tyres with the hope of winning a place in the final to claim a one-off R5 drive.

The event is set to be a tough challenge for everyone with three distinct types of stage used on the Trier-based rally. The opening day’s action on Friday will primarily use narrow roads which wind and twist their way through the vineyards high on the hills above the Mosel river. They are bumpy, dirty and feature a mix of fast junctions and slow hairpin bends.

Competitors will also tackle the more traditional smooth country roads through the Saarland region which feature grassy verges and muddy cuts if the weather is wet. But the most daunting challenge of all is the abrasive military roads through the infamous Baumholder ranges. Renowned for their slippery surfaces and lined with rally-ending, tank-stopping stones called Hinklesteins, the stages will ensure Saturday’s action is as tough as ever.

To cope with the sealed surface, M-Sport will convert its Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars to asphalt specification for the first time this year. That means bigger front brakes, asphalt dampers and springs and a lower ride-height to improve stability and precision. DMACK will offer competitors its E-marked DMT-RC tyre featuring the WRC-style tread pattern. It will be available in two compounds to cope with the mix of weather conditions and crews will be allowed to use a maximum of 20 tyres.
Rallye Deutschland is also a chance for the trophy technical partners to shine. GEM Fuel will again power the Fiesta R2 cars with its sustainable race fuel – helping the event become one of the most environmentally conscious in the world championship. Competitors will also rely on Morris Lubricants to deliver its high-specification engine oils and brake fluid to cope with the demands of heavy braking associated with high-speed asphalt rallying.

On Friday the rally route takes competitors north of Trier for a loop of three stages tackled twice. But Saturday throws down the gauntlet with over 148km of action including two passes over the mammoth 42.51km Panzerplatte test through Baumholder military range. Sunday’s stages head back to the vineyards with a more sedate repeat loop of two tests making up the 326km of asphalt action over the weekend.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “The switch to asphalt will be interesting and I’m expecting it to potentially open up the championship race a little. The weather conditions in Germany are also unknown so we’ve given crews a choice of two tyre compounds for the first time this season. I’m looking forward to seeing how drivers cope with this tough event and if anyone can close the gap to Sander Pärn.”

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said: “Following a series of gravel rallies, the competitors now turn their attention to asphalt and a chance for some new drivers to showcase their skills. Sander Pärn has had a perfect start to the season, but we’ll now see what the Tarmac specialists are capable of. The German stages are extremely technical and the crews are going to have to master a blend of speed and adaptability to succeed. They will also have two tyre options available, so it will be interesting to see how well they can manage their selection. Needless to say that another exciting battle awaits and I’m looking forward to seeing how each crew adapts to this notoriously difficult event.”

Driver Quotes

Nicolas Amiouni: “It’s my first time in Germany and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Although gravel is super fun and I was learning a lot, I’m really looking forward to the surface change, because I’m a little more familiar with Tarmac. I will be doing a small test on Monday in Germany to get some experience of the conditions. This time I will push as hard as I can to see how close I can get to the guys in front.”

Tom Cave: “This is the first time I will have contested Rally Germany and I can't wait to start the recce to see what I’m up against. I do really enjoy Tarmac driving and my target is to win this rally and go out and set as many fastest times as possible. It’s going to be the same mentality as Finland, I know I have the pace to win, but we need some other factors to all work for us and hopefully a little luck to guide us to the finish in top spot. It would be great to close the gap to Pärn and have the championship go down to the last round in Spain.”

Quentin Gilbert: “Last year on this rally I was fighting for the podium so hopefully we can show the same pace again this year. After my second place in Finland I hope to move up one step on the podium. We are testing on Monday and I feel better in the car after this good result in Finland – I think we can fight again here for the victory. We really need to win and take a maximum number of extra points for stage wins to get back on the podium in the Championship.”

Yeray Lemes: “I have more experience on asphalt so, for me, I’m happy that we are moving to Germany. We still have a chance of winning the championship so it will be important to use my experience and take some good points from this rally so that we can be in a position to challenge when we go to my home event in Spain for the last round.”

Szymon Kornicki: “This is my first time competing in Germany so the specifics of this rally will be new to me but I have heard there are a mixture of surfaces with varying road widths so I am expecting to gain some valuable experience. I have competed on Tarmac far more often than gravel so I hope this experience will help me compete. I am looking forward to seeing how competitive I can be. My main target for this rally is to be happy with my driving and enjoy every stage.”

Ghislain de Mévius: “I am happy that the trophy is moving to an asphalt race as I have much more experience on this surface. I want to put in a good performance and to really challenge for a place in the top five. I will find it easier to push for faster times on Tarmac and will generally feel more confident. My goal is to come top of the rookies and I feel I have a good chance of doing that.”

Sander Pärn: “I competed on Rallye Deutschland last year as part of JWRC so I have some experience but this year many stages are different. I have only done four Tarmac rallies in my career so I’m still learning. Last weekend we drove on the Rallye Wartburg as a test and the plan for next week is to get some more good points. There are still two rallies to go and nothing is certain but I hope to maintain my comfortable lead using the same tactics as before, drive carefully and with good feeling and see what happens.”

Nil Solans: “I enjoy driving on all surfaces so I’m happy that we are changing now to asphalt. This is my first attempt at the rally and I know it’s very difficult so the aim really is to finish, try and get as much experience as possible and maybe we can go for a top-five. We haven’t done anything since Finland so I expect to take a little time just to build up the speed.”

Leo Urlichich: “I have never completed in Deutschland before nor on Tarmac – so I'm really looking forward to the fun. I'm teaming up with a fourth new co-driver this season, and I can only hope that we are able to finish the event. I have done a one-day test in Belgium on Tarmac, and I have to say that I loved it. I'm last in the championship, but at least that's not really through my own fault. I’m still happy that I haven't made any major driving errors so far, and that I haven't lost any of my passion and excitement, despite this difficult stretch.”

Max Vatanen: “I have no expectations going into Rallye Deutschland but I hope to finish and, as I have only raced on Tarmac a few times, it’s going to be a steep learning curve for me. I am feeling positive about the experience though. I’m happy to be the leader of the Rookie award but ideally I would like to be challenging for the main prize. However, I am still learning and this is all valuable experience. I’m doing a small test on a track here in Finland but, as is the case with all Scandinavian drivers, I struggle to find suitable Tarmac test roads here.”

Media Contact: Glenn Patterson     +447872 470115



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