DMACK Blasts Off With Third Fiesta Trophy Season

DMACK Blasts Off With Third Fiesta Trophy Season

The highly-acclaimed Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy returns for a thrilling third season when 10 crews get into gear at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal next week.

Representing 13 different countries, competitors with an eclectic mix of experience and ambition are ready to battle it out over five excellent rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Finland's Max Vatanen, who has featured in the first two Trophy seasons, won the corresponding curtain-raiser last year. He will hope to come out on top of the pile having finished third overall in the 2015 championship battle. Teenager Gus Greensmith will again fly the flag for England having learned much from his first full campaign last year, when he was crowned top Rookie.

But they will face stiff competition from eight revved-up rivals who will have their first tilt at Trophy glory at the opening event based in Matosinhos near Porto.

Aiming to prove he can be a pretender to the crown at his home rally is Bernardo Sousa. The Portuguese has 38 WRC starts under his belt and has contested WRC 2 rounds in the previous two seasons. Welshman Osian Pryce joins off the back of a strong season in Junior WRC during which he was one of the leading and quickest runners. Also lining up is last year's Vatanen Touch winner Jon Armstrong, representing Northern Ireland.

Oscar Solberg, son of current WRC driver Henning, will hope to make it two Norwegian winners in two years following the 2015 success of compatriot Marius Aasen. And four drivers will make their WRC debuts having joined the Trophy series. American driver Dillon Van Way has experience of the Fiesta R2 through competition in the FIA NACAM series last year, while Jakub Brzeziński, from Poland, steps up from his national rally series.

Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin, aged 18, is the youngest driver in the Trophy, which will welcome its first African representative with the arrival of popular Kenyan driver Karan Patel. All 10 drivers and their co-pilots have their eyes trained on the biggest prize in global rallying – a lucrative seven rounds of WRC 2 competition in 2017 using a Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5.

They will fight it out in identical Ford Fiesta R2T rally cars, built by M-Sport in Poland and powered by Ford's 1.0 EcoBoost turbo-charged engine. And they will use DMACK's latest gravel rally tyres, available in G42 medium compound next week to deal with the challenging route.

Virtually identical to last year, the DMACK drivers will race across 19 stages covering 368 competitive kilometres on a mix of soft and abrasive gravel roads, which can become badly rutted on the second pass. After a ceremonial start in Guimarães on Thursday evening, competitors head north towards the Spanish border for Friday’s action. Saturday is the longest day with over 165km of action before the event comes to a close with the iconic and fan-packed blast through the famous Fafe test.

There is also a fresh feel following the announcement of a new prize structure with drivers winning two WRC 2 events for each pair of Trophy rounds. The driver accumulating the most points in Portugal and at the second rally in Poland wins two WRC 2 drives. It's the same situation for Poland in early July and Finland – both also on gravel. Meanwhile asphalt aces will be attracted to the pairing of Germany and Spain towards the back end of the term.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Once again the DMACK Trophy has attracted an impressive mix of talented drivers from across the world – demonstrating its global appeal as the first step into WRC. It’s set to be another exciting season and, once again, a fantastic platform to promote our products for two-wheel-drive cars.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “Once again, the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy has attracted a great crop of drivers and established itself as a fantastic platform for those experiencing the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time. It seems as though this year's competitors are more determined than ever and, with more opportunities to clinch the biggest prize in motorsport, I'm sure we'll see some very closely-fought competition when they take to the wheel of the one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2.”

Driver Quotes

Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland said: “Starting round one of the DMACK Fiesta Trophy is a huge opportunity for me to show my potential on the world stage. I know it's going to be a tough and very rough event, especially on day one, so we will try to be smart about our approach while still showing speed to gain points. The famous Fafe stage will be really cool, it has so much heritage and it’s great to see it being used competitively within the rally again.”

Jakub Brzezinski from Poland said: “Competing on my first world rally will be a big challenge and for Portugal we need to get as much experience as possible. We need to learn as much as we can from the rally as the next round is our home event in Poland and that will be an important rally for us. But also it's a big step up for me and I really want to enjoy this experience of WRC rallies."

Nicolas Ciamin from France said: “This will be only my fourth ever rally and first in WRC, so I'm looking forward to it and discovering the WRC atmosphere and stages and rally. I’ve done a few tests with my own Fiesta, and watched onboard videos to prepare. The only expectation is to get to the end of the rally, take the experience and have fun. The stages will be rough, with a lot of big stones, but starting my first WRC stage will be an unforgettable experience.”

Gus Greensmith from England said: “It will be great to get the DMACK Trophy season underway and apply all the preparation and hard work. I’ve completed a two-day test in Portugal which has got me in the rhythm. Of course I want to achieve a strong result and be right up there, but I know I haven't left a stone unturned in my preparation. Going flat out down the side of a Portuguese mountain, avoiding rocks the size of my head, really gets the heart racing, so it’s set to be a great week ahead.”

Karan Patel from Kenya said: “It will be great to start the first round of the DMACK Trophy because I’ve been looking forward to it from the second I got accepted. I have mainly been preparing myself physically for the races and the mental preparations are ongoing too as the rally nears. Our main aim for the rally is to bring the car home and if we can manage a good finish then that's a bonus. I think my biggest challenge will be getting the hang of tyre management but, as it’s my first WRC event, I’m really looking forward to Rally Portugal.”

Osian Pryce from Wales said: “It's been a long time since Poland in 2015, my last WRC event. I feel as if I’ve been away for too long and cant wait to get back. The aim is to use our experience from last year’s event and we’ve been analysing how we can improve and manage everything in order to have a smooth and a trouble-free rally. I’d like to aim for the win but there is some strong competition and experience crews so it could be anyone’s rally.”

Oscar Solberg from Norway said: “I’m very excited by this opportunity and it will be important for me to really aim to get as much experience as possible this year. I’ve got a new co-driver so the target for Portugal is to finish the rally and learn as much as possible. I’ve been preparing by watching some videos of last year’s rally and getting advice from Pontus Tidemand.”

Bernardo Sousa from Portugal said: “As it’s the first round of the season, I really want to get things off to a strong start. I’ve been working on my physical training but haven’t been able to do much driving. My goal and plan is to fight for the win in all events but I’ve haven’t driven since Sardinia last year and the last time I drove a two-wheel-drive car was 2006. The Trophy is very important to try and relaunch my career so I need to learn as fast as possible.”

Dillon Van Way from USA said: “Starting the first round of the DMACK Fiesta Trophy for me is the realisation of a long-time dream. Competing in a WRC event seemed like an unachievable goal and to now have the opportunity is surreal. I’m graduating from University with a degree in Architecture the day before I leave for Portugal, so time for testing won’t be an option. I’m looking forward to competing against some of the best up-and-coming drivers in the world. This will also be my first time at a WRC event so I am also excited just to be there and see the sport at the highest level.”

Max Vatanen from Finland said: “The DMACK Trophy is a great championship run on super events and Portugal has a very strong rally history, it's great to start the championship there. It will be important to use our experience from last year. I’ve been driving in the British Rally Championship this season and have many things from there to apply in the Trophy. The roads were in bad condition last year so it’s important to manage the tyres and the car.”

Vodafone Rally de Portugal
Based: Matosinhos, Portugal
Ceremonial start: 18.00 Thursday 19 May
Finish: 14.10 Sunday 22 May
Stages: 19 stages, 368.00 km
Longest stage: SS12/15 Amarante 37.67km
Surface: Soft and hard gravel
Tyres: DMACK DMG2 175/70R15 compound G42, maximum 20 tyres

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy seeded entries
101 Bernardo Sousa (Portugal) / Hugo Magalhes (Portugal)
102 Max Vatanen (Finland) / Thierry Salva (France)
103 Osian Pryce (Wales) / Dale Furniss (Wales)
104 Gus Greensmith (England) / Alex Gelsomino (Italy)
106 Jon Armstrong (Northern Ireland) / Noel O’Sullivan (Ireland)
107 Jakub Brzeziński (Poland) / Bartłomiej Boba (Poland)
108 Dillon Van Way (USA) / Andrew Edwards (Wales)
109 Oscar Solberg (Norway) / Patrik Barth (Sweden)
111 Nicolas Ciamin (France) / Thibault de la Haye (France)
112 Karan Patel (Kenya) / Phil Hall (England)


DMACK Blasts Off With Third Fiesta Trophy Season
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