Three Different Winners As Cave’s Victory Opens Up Title Race

Three Different Winners As Cave’s Victory Opens Up Title Race

Tom Cave blew the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title race wide open with victory at a fast and furious Neste Oil Rally Finland. Cave, the runner-up in last year's inaugural Trophy series, eventually seized control of round three after a thrilling seesaw weekend battle with Marius Aasen, and went on to top the podium.

With co-driver Craig Parry, the 23-year-old Brit clocked up nine wins over 20 speedy stages to move into second spot in the overall standings. Aasen and co-driver Veronica Engan, who claimed seven stage victories over the super-fast Finnish course, still lead the way at the top of the championship having won round two in Poland.

There have been three different winners during 2015 with Max Vatanen having triumphed at the opening rally of the season in Portugal. Finn Vatanen finished third in his home rally after three weekend stage successes. He is third in the overall standings, just one point behind Cave, who in turn is just eight points behind series leader Aasen.

After plenty of thrills and spills at the Jyväskylä-based event, a fascinating three-way title battle has developed among a trio of drivers who each gained vital experience during last year's Trophy campaign.

It was an encouraging weekend in Finland for Ghislain de Mevius, who clinched his first ever stage victory on the opening street stage. It proved to be a solid rally for the Belgian, whose pace is on the increase. However, there were fluctuating fortunes for other competitors who found the going much tougher on a gravel course featuring stomach-churning blind crests and rollercoaster jumps.

An incident-packed stage three claimed a number of victims. Gus Greensmith, from Britain, and Will Hudson, of the USA, were both forced out of the rally early after rolling their cars heavily. Meanwhile Edoardo Bresolin bowed out on the same stage after an accident which damaged his steering. However, Bresolin, from Italy, was able to rejoin on Saturday and eventually finished seventh.

Mats van den Brand was an early casualty after damaging his steering on the Harju street stage on Thursday night and retired again on Saturday after going off the road. Nicolas Amiouni, from Lebanon, was sidelined during stage two on Friday because of a brake problem. Their trials and tribulations proved there was little room for error on unforgiving gravel roads under the watchful eye of huge numbers of spectators who lined the route.

However, the identical M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R2 cars, powered by sustainable GEM race fuel, performed well. So, too, did the crews' soft G62 and medium G42 compound DMACK tyres which excelled on the soft gravel roads.

There are just two events of this season's Trophy series, backed by Morris Lubricants, remaining: the ADAC Rallye Deutschland (21-23 August) on an asphalt course, and the mixed surface season finale Rally de Espana. The latter will run as two separate rounds in late October with two sets of championship points on offer. This year's overall Trophy winner will net a lucrative full season of 2016 WRC 2 competition using a Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5.

Alongside the main Trophy, four private crews contested the Vatanen Touch competition where local driver Eerik Pietarinen was selected by former world rally champion, and DMACK brand ambassador, Ari Vatanen to progress to an end-of-season final to win a prize drive.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “We’ve had another epic battle and it’s great to see Tom and Craig seal victory at last. Three winners from three rounds shows how fantastic a series we have. Our tyres have once again performed exceptionally well here and contributed to some great overall performances.”

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said: “Congratulations to Tom [Cave] on securing his first win of the season. It was a great drive on what are some extremely difficult and challenging roads. The one-litre Fiesta R2 has also performed exceptionally well on these fast and technical stages - Tom beating all but two of the Junior R3 entrants! We've now had three different winners from three different events so the battle for the championship is going to be extremely tense and I'll be watching with interest.”

Driver quotes
Marius Aasen said: “We haven’t been thinking about the times today, just driving with a safe feeling. We had an oil pressure warning on the second pass which made me a little concerned but we made it home safely. I’m happy with the second position and to have maintained the lead of the championship. It’s always a lift driving these flowing stages. Trusting your notes is crucial and we’ve done that here today.”

Mats van den Brand said: “I expected a difficult rally but it was far more difficult than I could have imagined. The stages have been fantastic and I have learnt so much; experience of stages is the only thing that allows you to gauge just how fast the roads are here and how that affects your recce. The early mistake meant we were out of the fight but I’ve enjoyed the experience.”

Edoardo Bresolin said: “I’m happy here in Finland and have just driven stage by stage. I’ve been getting more familiar with the car and start to get the good feeling. I am setting better and better times each stage and will keep working to be faster. The new surface in Germany will be a great challenge and I look forward to it.”

Tom Cave said: “What a fantastic feeling it is to win here in Finland, it’s only just starting to sink in that we’ve done it. I was happy with the pace we showed all weekend and we didn’t really have a problem. Finland has been a pleasure to drive again and the experience I gained in last year’s Trophy has really shown I think. I couldn’t wait to return and compete here, it really is more than a rally. To achieve such a positive result and strengthen our championship position was the main goal and it feels great to have achieved that. We look forward to Germany and the opportunity to advance.”

Kevin van Deijne said: “It’s been a very difficult event compared to last year. Ouninpohja is such an iconic test of rallying skill and a pleasure to drive. I’ve had a new co-driver here in Finland and to be put through such a tough test immediately is very difficult. I’ve gained some incredible experience and learnt a lot. I look forward to Spain the most because I have more experience there and I feel more at home.”

Gus Greensmith said: “Up until the accident I felt pleased with my driving but on the third stage I misheard a pacenote and that was that. It’s a harsh lesson for such a small mistake but that’s rallying. I’m hoping things will go better on Tarmac in Germany and I’m confident I’ll finish further up the rankings, providing I don’t miss a pacenote. The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy is the best thing I’ve ever done; the organisation and everything is just so professional.”

Will Hudson said: “We knew it would be tough here in Finland. It was always likely that we would have trouble here, but coming off the back of two incomplete rallies made this retirement much harder to take. I’m still dealing with focus and concentration issues. It’s not an issue with pacenotes or communication but in understanding approach speed and how it effects everything.”

Ghislain de Mevius said: “Things have gone much better this year compared with last, I’ve definitely been faster. Apart from the first stage win on Thursday I’ve been in fourth from start to finish. The goal was always to get closer to the top three but I need to understand better how to maximise speed and use that efficiently. The Tarmac event in Germany will be more to my style and hopefully I’ll be fast there like last year.”

Max Vatanen said: “It’s a pity I took so long to get on the pace and at least we got two stage wins at the end there. In Germany we must start where we finished today if we want to stay in with a chance of the overall win. When it goes well here in Finland you feel like you are flying, and for me I enjoy my home rally when I drive like that. This year I have not been satisfied with my driving because I expect a lot of myself.”

Vatanen Touch winner Eerik Pietarinen said: “It’s a great feeling to be in with a chance of the prize drive. We spent a lot of time getting familiar with our set-up as we only had 80km of drive time before this rally. We mainly aimed to avoid mistakes and have a sensible drive. The pace is getting better and better and we are excited to take that on to the shoot-out competition.”

Final rally classification

1. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 2hr 57min 38.8sec
2. Marius Aasen / Veronica Engan 2hr 58min 29.4sec
3. Max Vatanen / Jacques-Julien Renucci 2hr 58min 31.7sec
4. Ghislain de Mévius / Johan Jalet 3hr 1min 20.7sec
5. Kevin van Deijne / Hein Verschuuren 3hr 10min 57.8sec
6. Mats van den Brand / Martijn Wydaeghe 3hr 49min 10.5sec
7. Edoardo Bresolin / Rudy Pollet 3hr 56min 54.8sec

Trophy classification after round 3

1. Marius Aasen / Veronica Engan 76
2. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 68
3. Max Vatanen / Jacques-Julien Renucci 67
4. Kevin van Deijne / Hein Verschuuren 26
5. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson 25
6. Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet 23
7. Mats van den Brand / Martijn Wydaeghe 15
8. Edoardo Bresolin / Rudy Pollet 10
9. Nicolas Amiouni / Joseph Matar 8
10. Nil Solans / Miquel Ibańez 0
11. Will Hudson / Alex Gelsomino 0



Three Different Winners As Cave’s Victory Opens Up Title Race
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