DMACK Fiestas Searching For The Perfect Finish

DMACK Fiestas Searching For The Perfect Finish

Vital championship points and lucrative WRC2 prize drives are on offer for Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy crews at the iconic Neste Rally Finland next week – the half-way point in the season. Nine drivers and co-drivers are gearing up for a thrilling third leg of the hugely competitive five-race series, staged by WRC tyre manufacturer DMACK along with M-Sport.

The high-speed gravel event in Finland promises thrills, spills and enormous eye-catching jumps from its base in the university town of Jyväskylä. DMACK competitors from Europe and Africa will have to be at their best to meet the tough challenges of fast, forest roads renowned for their stomach-churning, rollercoaster jumps.

Osian Pryce won the opening race of the season in Portugal, and currently tops the Trophy table with 53 points. The 23-year-old took second place in Poland earlier this month and also clinched two 2017 WRC 2 prize drives into the bargain. Two more prize drives will be awarded to the best performing driver for Poland and Finland combined.

Lying six points behind Pryce overall is Jon Armstrong, of Northern Ireland. Armstrong, aged 21, recorded a memorable maiden Trophy triumph last time out in Poland, improving his pace, and will be looking to build on that in Finland.

Finnish flyer Max Vatanen, who has appeared in all three DDFT series, has valuable past experience of next week's famous rally - at which accurate pace notes are a must. The 25-year-old local boy, who finished third overall in 2015, currently lies 18 points behind second-placed Armstrong and is looking to close the gap on the top two drivers.

Also hoping to make an impact on this season's championship race is the experienced Bernardo Sousa. He has had a stuttering start to his campaign, crashing out in dramatic style on the final stage on home soil in Portugal.

Teenager Gus Greensmith has shown plenty of speed so far this season, and the Brit will be looking to transfer that into a positive result. Finland is likely to prove a huge learning curve for the Trophy's four remaining rookie drivers: Jakub Brzezinski, Nicolas Ciamin, Karan Patel and Oscar Solberg. Its super-fast roads and technical crests are difficult to master, but Solberg from neighbouring Norway might be best-placed to demonstrate his speed.

Almost half the Neste Rally Finland route is new for 2016, and huge crowds are expected to line the stages of this event, which is on every rally fan’s must-do list. Competition starts on Thursday evening with Harju street stage in Jyväskylä before drivers head west on Friday towards Keuruu for classic forest challenges including Mökkiperä and Jukojärvi.

Saturday will take crews south to the Jämsä region and the legendary Ouninpohja – the rally's signature stage. Sunday's route extends south east of Jyväskylä into areas that have not seen rally cars this millennium.

In identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars, built by M-Sport and powered by Ford's 1.0 EcoBoost turbo-charged engine, the DMACK drivers and co-pilots are competing for the biggest prize in global rallying – seven lucrative rounds of WRC 2 competition next year using a Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Perhaps the biggest challenge of the season, Rally Finland is a tough rally and one where experience really counts. It will be a key event, with the driver that can balance speed, preparation and strategy coming out on top.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “For the first time this year, the crews will be able to concentrate solely on speed, and what better place to do that than at Rally Finland. So far they’ve had to balance their speed with the need for learning, but now they have an opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s fastest stages at full throttle. We could see some real potential come to the fore next week, and I’m sure they are all looking forward to what is a highlight of the season.”

Driver Quotes

Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland said: “I’m very happy with how our season has been so far and it was amazing in Poland to be the fastest crew on only our third WRC event. The main challenge in Finland will be getting our lines right over the crests and jumps and to make accurate pace notes. We are in a good position for the next prize drives now, but we need to have a smart approach and not go flat out from the start.”

Jakub Brzezinski from Poland said: “We are learning more and more on every rally but I know that Finland is difficult and it will be important to get good experience here on my first time. Luckily we are coming from a fast rally in Poland but this will be much more technical. The aim is to have a mistake-free rally and learn even more.”

Nicolas Ciamin from France said: “There's still a lot of work in order to fight with the guys in the front but we're giving it our best. This season is all about learning and we have made good progress between Portugal and Poland. I've not competed in Finland before, I think it will be very fast and we'll have to be careful with the huge crests, jumps and blind corners. It will be an amazing feeling to drive there.”

Gus Greensmith from England said: “At every round this year I've felt our pace has been very strong but for Finland I've focused on a few particular aspects which I hope will give us a little more speed with a little less risk. The main challenge in Finland is that the commitment level needs to be really high yet sliding the car will scrub speed and lose time, you have to find the perfect balance. I've put the effort in so I know we're in a good position going into the best rally of them all.”

Karan Patel from Kenya said: “My pace notes were slowing me down in Poland so again I’ve been working hard between rallies to make them better. One of the big challenges in Finland are the jumps and it’s easy to make mistakes. I will be focusing on improving things further and getting experience of this special rally.”

Osian Pryce from Wales said: “I’ve stepped up my preparation for Finland as it’s a new rally for me and most other competitors, so I've been trying to seek as much help and advice from those who have been successful there in the past to give us the edge. The lines and jumps will be key, we have the speed but just need to work on the other aspects. We need a win and some stage victories to keep the lead in the championship and hopefully take more prize drives.”

Oscar Solberg from Norway said: “Rally Finland is a place where you need to have really precise pace notes so I’ve been doing a lot of work in that area. My season has been going well so far as I’ve been getting faster on every rally. It’s going to be a fast rally and, once again, my aim is to get more experience and improve my speed step by step with no mistakes.”

Bernardo Sousa from Portugal said: “I competed in Finland in 2012 with the Fiesta S2000 and, from what I remember, the biggest challenge is with pace notes. It’s difficult as there are many corners over crests and sometimes hard to read properly the amount of grip on the roads. It will probably be the toughest event for all of us but my plan is simple – flat out from the first metre. I need to try and win the event and challenge for the prize events.”

Max Vatanen from Finland said: “We competed on a small rally in Finland last weekend to get ready for the high speeds, it was the perfect preparation and we won our class. Rally Finland is my home event and I have experience from the last two years so it will be important for me to use all this to my advantage and push for the win in front of my home crowd. The pace notes will play a key role here because of the roller coaster roads, so getting them right will really pay off.”

Neste Rally Finland
Based: Jyväskylä, Finland
Start: 18.42 Thursday 28 July
Finish: 15.00 Sunday 31 July
Stages: 24 stages, 333.60 km
Longest stage: SS13/17 Ouninpohja 33.00 km
Surface: Fast gravel
Tyres: DMACK DMG2 175/70R15 G42 and G62, maximum 18 tyres

Trophy Classification After Round 3
1. Osian Pryce / Dale Furniss 53
2. Jon Armstrong / Noel O’Sullivan 47 Rookie
3. Max Vatanen / Thierry Salva 29
4. Bernardo Sousa / Hugo Magalhaes 24
5. Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye 20 Rookie
6. Gus Greensmith / Alex Gelsomino 19
7. Jakub Brzeziński / Bartłomiej Boba 16 Rookie
8. Oscar Solberg / Patrik Barth 12 Rookie
9. Dillon Van Way / Andrew Edwards 10 Rookie
10. Karan Patel / Phil Hall 2 Rookie


DMACK Fiestas Searching For The Perfect Finish
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