Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Blasts Off In Portugal

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Blasts Off In Portugal

Boasting a line-up of 24 eager competitors from 10 different countries, the inaugural and highly anticipated Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will burst into action at next week's Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

The cost-effective series was launched to provide an affordable option for upcoming drivers to taste action in the FIA World Rally Championship. After receiving registrations from 25 drivers, 12 were chosen to tackle the series which is played out over five European rounds of the world championship.

Not only does the series provide a platform for WRC action and global exposure, crews are battling for the huge prize of a full season in the 2015 WRC 2 championship at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 in the Drive DMACK team. Drivers will use DMACK control tyres and race in identical Fiesta R2 cars, built and maintained by M-Sport.

The series, however, kick starts with one of the most technically demanding gravel rounds on the calendar. The special stages are a mix of fast, open roads with a hard base and softer, narrow tracks – with the blend of speeds and surfaces sometimes making it hard to find a rhythm.

Throw some blind crests into the mix and you get a rally where accurate pacenotes are vital – and that's going to be a tough start for drivers who haven't competed here before.

The Drive DMACK Fiesta crews have a diverse mix of experience. For four of the 12 drivers, next week's event will be their first ever world rally. In stark contrast it will be co-driver Carlos del Barrio's 83rd WRC event – he's a previous overall rally winner with Dani Sordo in Germany last year and has also finished fifth overall alongside Jesús Puras on the 1996 Rally de Portugal. There are also four of the top-five drivers from last year's Junior WRC series – Yeray Lemes, José Suárez, Sander Pärn and Marius Aasen who finished second, third, fourth and fifth.

This year the action once again takes places high in the Baixo Alentejo and Serra do Caldeiro hills above Faro in the Algarve region. The rally kicks off with a 3.27km blast through the streets of Lisbon following the ceremonial start at Estoril on Thursday evening. Then on Friday morning it's straight into the rugged hills to tackle the tough gravel roads.

Competitors face two loops containing 73km of special stages on both Friday and Saturday with three shorter stages on Sunday rounding off the action before they reach the finish ramp at the Algarve Stadium after completing 339.46km of tests.

Make no mistake, the early spring conditions in Portugal are always demanding. If it's hot and dry then dust and ultra-abrasive stages with hard bedrock will test the DMACK tyres to the limit. But, in recent years, torrential rain has turned the roads to slippery mud tracks with cars struggling to just stay on the road.

Competitors will have a maximum of 20 DMACK DMG2 gravel tyres in a newly-developed G42 medium compound for the entire event. They will get their first taste of action on Wednesday afternoon at a special test before meeting the world's media at an exclusive champagne reception when the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy is officially launched on Wednesday evening in the service park.

To kick off the season with a little fun the competitors will be taking part in the DMACK Selfie Saturday – where they will be tweeting self-taken photos of themselves at various points during the rallying day.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:"After an exciting build-up to the season, it's great that we are finally set for the first round. It's a tough rally with abrasive surfaces that really test tyre durability – so there's a lot for the drivers to think about regarding tyre management. I'm proud that we've reached this stage. The DMACK brand has been founded on high-level competition at an affordable price and this series epitomizes just that. We've managed to offer a superb prize so I expect competition to be fierce all year."

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport Managing Director, said:"It is great to see the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy start so strongly with such a promising array of drivers. Having met many of them at the briefing earlier this month, they are all extremely determined individuals and I am sure that will translate on the stages with some very close-fought competition. There is such a variety of experience and I think that goes to show how popular the series has been. It is a real shame that we were restricted to a limited number of cars, but the field we have produced looks set to yield a highly competitive and exciting championship."

Driver Quotes

Marius Aasen:"I have been watching some of our in-car-videos from last year, just to refresh my mind about how things are working in Portugal. I know that some of the stages are very rough, so my biggest challenge will be to try and have a clean run through the whole rally without any problems. I am simply looking forward to starting on the first stage and getting back into the Ford Fiesta R2. I really wanted to take part in the Trophy and finally the first rally is just around the corner."

Nicolas Amiouni:"For me this rally will be a big challenge. It will be my first ever round of a proper WRC event and the main focus is to get the 300km of experience from the rally – so it will be important to try and complete all the stages. We had a test in Spain and it felt good and now I'm excited to make the start. I'm very lucky to have Carlos del Barrio with me to keep me on the right track."

Tom Cave:"I have been talking to Elfyn Evans to get advice on the preparation and strategy for the rally. With the abrasive surface in Portugal, a big challenge will be to maximise the tyre allocation over the three days and set up a good tyre strategy after the recce. My aim is to score maximum points, but also be disciplined and consistent. Craig and I are prepared and we are ready to show what we can do. In 2009 I only reached day two so it would be nice to finish the rally and with a good result to set our championship off on a positive start."

Quentin Gilbert:"I participated last year so I have some experience of the conditions. I have prepared physically to try and be in great shape for the rally and to remain well focused. I think the hardest part of this event are the stones which emerge after the four-wheel-drive cars, so you need good pacenotes and also to find the right pace to reach the finish without making mistakes. Our objective is to finish on the highest step of the podium. We really want, like all drivers, to win this championship and take the superb prize of a WRC 2 campaign in 2015."

Yeray Lemes:"We have been here three times in the last four years and been preparing by watching the video from past years. We can't wait to start the championship and love the challenge of a tough event like this. It will be very competitive this year because of the high level of the drivers and certainly a big challenge to try and win the title. For this rally it will be important to have a clean run with no problems and punctures."

Szymon Kornicki:"This is my first WRC rally so it will be a big challenge for me. I have been doing physical and mental training and of course some driving – we have completed around 300km testing in the Fiesta on gravel. The biggest challenge will be to make good pacenotes and bring the car to the finish in one piece. My aim is to learn as much as possible, have a lot of fun from each kilometre of my driving, and try to avoid mistakes."

Ghislain de Mévius:"It's my first world rally and first time in Rally Portugal. I did some gravel testing in the south of France which was very useful. The big challenge on this rally will be to try and be fast but not damage the car and of course try and make it to the finish – that's the main aim. Getting the experience from this event will really help us in the future. I am very happy and excited to be starting this Trophy as it's a big step forward for me in my rally career."

Sander Pärn:"I'm glad that we can use the experience we gained last year. Our first plan was to continue in 2014 in JWRC but it was difficult to find the sponsorship and the budget. This solution from DMACK and M-Sport is a good alternative and a cost-effective series for us. The Ford Fiesta R2 is the same as I used last year so I have that experience. The prize is great and one that will make all the drivers work hard during the season."

Nil Solans:"I have never competed on Rally Portugal before but we did a gravel rally in the Spanish national championship and were fastest in two-wheel-drive. We will try to be fast throughout all the days but without making mistakes – that will be important. My aim is to learn a lot and have a fast but safe drive. After all the preparation I'm excited to see the times after the first stage and to start this new adventure in my life."

José Suárez:"This will be my fourth time at Rally Portugal and I've always driven with the Fiesta R2. I have prepared well physically and I've worked with my own onboard videos of the last three editions of this rally. I feel up to speed as we won the Rally de Tierra de Lorca last weekend by just one second. I know the rally in Portugal well and I'm sure DMACK has worked hard to give us a good tyre. I hope to be in the top positions and fighting for the win. This Trophy is the best way for young drivers to progress in WRC and the final prize is amazing."

Leo Urlichich:"It has been a busy period since February when we were selected to drive in this series. Portugal will be my first WRC rally and I had never competed in a front-wheel-drive car at the start of this year. We did a course at the Team O'Neil Rally School in the US and then a test and a rally in Spain. It will be really difficult to get the pacenotes right and I also need to remember that I must get the experience of the WRC stages in order to become faster."

Max Vatanen:"It has been a big preparation for the first round and for the beginning of the DMACK Trophy. I'm planning a test this weekend and am really looking forward to drive again on the gravel and to drive for the first time with DMACK. The first challenge of the rally will be to have accurate pacenotes. The roads are very different from what I am used to in Finland and it's a pretty rough event so finishing the rally with no problems will be a challenge. I'm really excited about my first ever stage in the WRC."

Brief biography information on each competitor and further details on the Trophy can be found at


Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Blasts Off In Portugal
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