DMACK Fiestas Fighting For Fame In Finland

DMACK Fiestas Fighting For Fame In Finland

In what’s billed to be the highlight of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy season, the 12 crews will head to Neste Oil Rally Finland next week to celebrate the mid-point of the season in style at the spiritual home of rallying. Famed for its mythical, high-speed stages and roller-coaster roads with huge jumps, the rally is one of the most popular rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship.


Series leader Sander Pärn’s confidence is high as he comes to the event poised for a hat-trick of victories after winning the opening two rounds. Pärn has vital experience of the challenging stages and scored a dominant two-wheel-drive victory on his home event of Rally Estonia last week as part of his preparation.   


However, Brit Tom Cave in second place is up for the challenge and determined to put up a fight. It will be his first attempt at the famed event but he’s been working extra-hard on improving his pacenotes and is testing this weekend to prepare for the rally.


Finland has been dominated by Scandinavian drivers and local star Max Vatanen could spring a few surprises on his first attempt at his home rally. Not only has he got the backing of the local fans but his father, 1981 World Champion Ari Vatanen, is sure to have passed on some advice as overall winner of the rally twice in the past. Vatanen senior will also address the full pack of Fiesta Trophy crews before the event to share some secrets on how to master the special stages.


Norwegian Marius Aasen is also expected to be on the pace after putting his problems from Poland behind and Yeray Lemes has promised to use his experience to push for the extra points awarded for individual stage victories. Spain’s José Suárez, with new co-driver Borja Rozada, and Frenchman Quentin Gilbert are both hoping to forget their Rally Poland retirements and get back on track.


It’s the first Rally Finland for Nicolas Amiouni, Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius, Pole Szymon Kornicki and Leo Urlichich – who is competing alongside new co-driver Darren Garrod. Along with Nil Solans, they will all be aiming to build experience of the classic stages and improve the pace over the weekend. 


However, Finland’s unforgiving stages are not easy for debutants. The high-speed roads feature flat-out blind corners and huge crests and jumps which can catapult the Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars high into the air. Experience is a huge bonus and accurate pacenotes are crucial. But, it’s these challenges and flowing roads which make the event a firm favourite with drivers and see huge numbers of spectators flock to the event.


Generally tyre wear on the smooth stages is not a big issue so DMACK will supply crews with its soft compound G62 tyre. It will need to provide precision but also a significant amount of puncture resistance to guard against the rocks which can poke through the surface on many of the softer rutted roads.


The identical M-Sport-prepared Fiestas will again be powered by sustainable race fuel provided by the Trophy’s official partner GEM Fuel when the action kicks off from host town Jyväskylä on Thursday evening. Competitors will tackle over 360km of timed action across 26 stages. Friday is the longest day and features two loops of four stages around Jämsä while Saturday’s stages boast a number of popular classics before crews finish on Sunday.


The 12 registered runners will be joined by four additional Shoot-Out entries competing in their own cars on DMACK tyres with the hope of winning a place in the final to win a one-off R5 drive.


What’s Been Happening?

  • 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen will offer advice to the crews on Thursday before the start.
  • Series leader Sander Pärn sealed a stunning two-wheel-drive victory at Rally Estonia last weekend.
  • José Suárez has a new co-driver, Spaniard Borja Rozada. He finished sixth overall alongside Benito Guerra at Rally Mexico this year.
  • Leo Urlichich has a new co-driver, Darren Garrod from Wales.
  • Competitors will use DMACK G62 soft compound tyres for the first time this season.


Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “I’ve been looking forward to this event as I believe it will showcase the true stars from the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Finland demands skill, commitment, a clever approach and a good relationship between driver and co-driver. For the less experienced crews it will also be a great event to improve their skills and really learn how to better their pacenotes and driving.”


Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said: “Finland is an iconic event in the championship and one that every driver wants to win. With that in mind, I think we can expect another extremely close-fought battle in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. This event provides a really unique challenge. The speed is obviously extremely high but there is also very little room for error and precision driving and pacenote delivery is essential. Make a mistake in Finland and you’ll have to deliver something special to make back the time. This will be a real test for the Drive DMACK competitors but I am sure that they are all looking forward to tackling these legendary stages.”


Driver Quotes


Marius Aasen: “I’m really looking forward to Rally Finland. Last year I raced in JWRC so I have a little experience and I really like these kind of fast roads. I’m now feeling much more confident in the car and hopefully now we have all the bad luck and problems behind us. My aim is to drive for a podium position and also collect some points for stage wins along the way. I feel well prepared for the rally and I’m going there to have some fun.”


Nicolas Amiouni: “Yes, I’m really exited about going to Finland, it will be an amazing experience. It’s my first time there and I’ve already heard from the other drivers that the crests are the biggest challenge, because you need to be very careful with the perfect line and the correct speed. I’ve been watching videos of the stages and thinking of new ideas for my pacenotes. I’m aiming to finish where I left off in Poland to develop myself and reduce the gap to the front.”


Tom Cave: “The stages in Finland are a real favourite with drivers so I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s my first time in Finland and we have been working extra hard on the pacenotes to ensure they are as accurate as possible. We are testing this weekend to try and find a good set-up and get some crucial driving time on these high-speed roads. We showed good speed in Poland and we need a strong finish here to keep our championship hopes alive but I believe we can win in Finland.”


Quentin Gilbert: “Finland is a special rally and luckily I had the chance to compete last year for the first time – it was a great memory. With all the crests and jumps, it’s important to have good pacenotes to be able to go fast but not have any mistakes. We’ve only scored two points so far so we are going to the rally to learn as much as possible and get the experience. Since Poland we competed on the fifth round of the French Championship – finishing third in a world rally car.”


Yeray Lemes: “This is our third consecutive year at Finland so we are looking forward to it a lot. It will be a difficult event but we are aiming to try and win. We are third in the championship and we want to try and reduce the gap to the top drivers, by having a strong finish and some stage wins, before the Tarmac event in Germany. That will mean being cautious to try and look after the car but also set good times and make a strong finish.”


Szymon Kornicki: “This will be my first time to attempt Rally Finland and I’m really looking forward to it – it will be a big pleasure to make the start. The whole rally is a challenge and, as it’s my first season in the WRC, I’ve been learning so much on every rally. Realistically our aim is to get as much experience as possible from this classic rally and to improve our pacenotes and speed over the weekend.”


Ghislain de Mévius: “For me Rally Finland is the most famous rally in the world so it will be a great opportunity. It’s also probably one of the most difficult and the jumps will be a big challenge. We need to learn how to approach them at the right speed, stay on the correct lines for the corners and try to take care of the car. To help, we will do a small test in Finland before the recce starts. For me it will be all about building up my experience on these roads.”


Sander Pärn: “Rally Finland is the most legendary rally I’ve ever competed on. I have taken part three times already before – last year in the Fiesta R2 as part of the JWRC. It’s a very long rally so the biggest challenges will be to take care of the car over the huge jumps but also to keep maximum concentration throughout the rally. Winning in Estonia last weekend was perfect preparation for Finland but I’m not going to be crazy on tricky roads as I need to score some good points.”


Nil Solans: “I’m really looking forward to Rally Finland – it is one of those special events. I competed in 2012 so I’m really keen to return. Because of the high speeds, one of the biggest challenges is being able to get to those speeds quickly and be on the pace. We have been getting faster as the season goes on and now my aim is for a top five result next week.”


José Suárez: “We had a disappointing finish at the last rally in Poland and now we have to put that behind and concentrate on getting some points in Finland. I know it will be a tricky rally but I will use my experience of the Fiesta and hopefully try to take a good result. Accurate pacenotes are needed and the recce will be important to get the lines and speed right.”


Leo Urlichich: “Rallying is an ultimate dream and Finland is the epitome of rallying. I absolutely love being a part of this iconic event, and I can’t wait to get going. I’ve been in Finland twice as a spectator, and to finally be able to take on these stages in a rally car is an ultimate prize for all the hard work we’ve put in. You need to get the lines right, especially over the blind crests and high-speed roads – pacenotes will be very important.”


Max Vatanen: “Since my childhood I have been spectating in Rally Finland nearly every summer. As a Finn the rally is very special, it's like a myth and now being able to compete in front of my home crowd and family will be a dream come true. Pacenotes will be crucial for this rally as there are so many crests and jumps, the lines have to be perfect. I want to be on the pace directly from the start and have a clean run through the whole event – then we can aim for a podium.”


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