Max Powers To Victory On Home Soil In Finland

Max Powers To Victory On Home Soil In Finland

Local boy Max Vatanen powered to victory at Neste Rally Finland and breathed life into his Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title hopes. During an incident-packed, high octane third round of the Trophy campaign, several of Vatanen's fellow competitors hit trouble on the unforgiving, famous forest roads.

Northern Ireland's Jon Armstrong, winner last time out in Poland, made an early departure from the rally. He crashed out during stage five on Friday. Series leader Osian Pryce, who had been involved in a nip-and-tuck battle with Vatanen and his co-driver Maxime Vilmot at the head of the field early-on, lost time on Saturday when he rolled his Ford Fiesta R2.

By contrast the 25-year-old Finnish favourite, using experience both of the conditions and previous outings in the iconic rally, kept a cool head to celebrate his first Trophy win of the season. That has resulted in Vatanen leapfrogging Armstrong into second place in the latest 2016 standings.
Today's terrific triumph also netted him two 2017 WRC 2 prize drives having clocked up the most points at both Finland and Poland earlier this month.

Neste Rally Finland proved a brutally tough test for the nine promising drivers and their co-pilots. They were watched by huge crowds at an event which is based in the university town of Jyväskylä.

Bernardo Sousa, of Portugal, was rewarded for improved form as he claimed second spot on the podium with co-driver Hugo Magalhaes. Finishing in third overall, and achieving their best result to date, were Jakub Brzezinski and Jakub Gerber from Poland, who steadily improved their speed during the weekend. Also celebrating his best display so far was Norwegian Oscar Solberg as he finished in fourth place.

Kenya's Karan Patel, another rookie, continued his learning curve and was placed fifth in the final rally standings. Pryce eventually came home in sixth spot. But the 23-year-old Welshman still leads the overall Trophy pecking order with two rounds remaining. He is five points clear of Vatanen, who in turn is 21 ahead of Armstrong and Sousa in joint third.

There was frustration in Finland, however, for English teenager Gus Greensmith. He was hampered by a number of problems and then failed to finish the rally after crashing out on the final day. Eighteen-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin also found the going tough and rolled his car.

Crews were provided with two DMACK tyre compound options, the G42 medium and G62 soft, which were more than a match for the testing conditions. In identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars, powered by Ford's 1.0 EcoBoost turbo-charged engine, the DMACK drivers 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.

Staged by WRC tyre manufacturer DMACK along with M-Sport, the Trophy provides a training ground for budding world rally stars of the future. The third and last pair of WRC 2 prize drives are up for grabs at the final two asphalt rounds of the season, ADAC Rallye Deutschland in mid-August and Rally de Espana.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Max has driven a very clever rally to take a popular victory on his home event and secure the second batch of prize drives. Everyone has learnt a lot from this event and it truly is a classic rally with a unique challenge.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “Congratulations to Max. He's used his experience to full effect this weekend and come away with the win and two prize drives to boot. There's a reason why Rally Finland is so demanding for young drivers. It requires a fine balance and everyone who has made it through unscathed should be very pleased with their performance.”

Driver Quotes

Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland said: “Finland was always going to be the most difficult event of the year and I felt it was a big challenge during the recce to make accurate pace notes. It was a disappointing end to the rally for us as everything had been going well and we were comfortable. But we just had a pace note too fast over a crest, went wide and rolled. It was really unfortunate but there’s no room for error in Finland.”

Osian Pryce from Wales said: “We just got caught out by a tightening right-hand corner, slid backwards, dug in and rolled over some small trees. We were lucky to avoid the big trees but of course very disappointed with how it ended. It’s been great here in Finland, we’ve gained some really good experience. We had a brilliant time and I’m really looking forward to Germany and testing myself with the change of surface.”

Bernardo Sousa from Portugal said: “It was a nice rally, we started a little bit slow but stage by stage we improved and began setting some fastest times, and by the end it was a case of getting the car home. It was a good result, the rhythm is back and so is the confidence, so I’m looking forward to Rally Germany. Tarmac is my favourite kind of surface and I think I’ll be able to drive much better.”

Gus Greensmith from England said: “My notes haven’t been up to scratch this weekend and we were constantly reviewing them so I could push harder on the second loops. When we crashed out this afternoon I was half a car too wide and carrying too much speed into the corner. When the notes were more accurate we had a positive feeling and I think we demonstrated some real pace but I need to work on them.”

Max Vatanen from Finland said: “I am really happy to win here in Finland. We had the pace from the start and were driving with our heads and it paid off. The car and tyres both worked really well. Maxim also did a really good job so it was a great combination that brought this result. It’s fantastic to have won the prize drives for next year and it gives me motivation to push for the other rounds so I’m really pleased.”

Jakub Brzezinski from Poland said: “It’s amazing for us to get to the finish in the first place, and to finish third, we didn’t expect that at all. I must say it’s been amazing and we’re still a little bit shocked that we managed to get to the finish and with a proper result. We look forward to the next challenge in Germany for sure.”

Oscar Solberg from Norway said: “The fast stages have been difficult with tricky corner combinations, but it’s been fun. I’ve just been smiling all the way round and enjoying every minute. You really need to be on the limit all the time here in Finland and I’ll need to gain more experience before I can drive like that. I have very little experience driving on Tarmac so I’m hoping to do some testing before Germany, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Nicolas Ciamin from France said: “It’s been the most beautiful rally from a driving aspect and I really enjoyed what road time I had. My notes were not good enough, especially in terms of corner angles. We improved a lot in the afternoon but unfortunately had the accident and were unable to continue. Germany will be tough but I have more experience driving on Tarmac so hopefully I will be able to show more pace.”

Karan Patel from Kenya said: “So far Finland has been my favourite rally. I’ve worked really hard on my pace notes and I’ve gained a lot of confidence from that. Slowly but surely I’m getting the feeling of the car and what it can do. I don’t want to risk too much because the value of the kilometre experience is more than pushing for a couple more seconds.”

Final Classification
1. Max Vatanen / Thierry Salva 3h 03m 56.0s
2. Bernardo Sousa / Hugo Magalhaes 3h 06m 21.0s
3. Jakub Brzeziński / Jakub Gerber Rookie 3h 08m 30.0s
4. Oscar Solberg / Patrik Barth Rookie 3h 12m 09.9s
5. Karan Patel / Phil Hall 3h 16m 17.6s
6. Osian Pryce / Dale Furniss 3h 52m 25.3s

Trophy Classification After Round 3
1. Osian Pryce / Dale Furniss 68
2. Max Vatanen / Maxime Vilmot 63
3=. Jon Armstrong / Noel O’Sullivan Rookie 47
3=. Bernardo Sousa / Hugo Magalhaes 47
5. Jakub Brzeziński / Jakub Gerber Rookie 31
6. Oscar Solberg / Patrik Barth Rookie 24
7. Gus Greensmith / Alex Gelsomino 21
8. Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye Rookie 20
9. Karan Patel / Phil Hall Rookie 12
10. Dillon Van Way / Andrew Edwards Rookie 10


Max Powers To Victory On Home Soil In Finland
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