Vatanen Aims To Maintain Pole In DMACK Fiesta Trophy

Vatanen Aims To Maintain Pole In DMACK Fiesta Trophy

Competitors in the 2015 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will aim to put on a real show for spectators from all over Europe when round two of the series takes the 11 crews to Poland next weekend.

A feverishly competitive season-opener at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal in May was won by Max Vatanen. But, although the flying Finn dominated, winning half of the 12 tough gravel stages, the lead had changed hands several times earlier in the weekend.

Crews now move on to Lotos Rally Poland, which runs from 2-5 July. They will find the route has changed almost completely from that used in 2014 – providing more of a level playing field between those who competed last year and the 2015 rookies.

Tom Cave, the 2014 Trophy runner-up, was fast in the corresponding Polish event last year. The Brit, fifth in Portugal, is likely to head a determined chasing pack of drivers looking to claw back points on pacesetter Vatanen.

Cave's fellow Brit Gus Greensmith acquitted himself well on his Trophy debut in Portugal and will be aiming to improve on his fourth place. Norwegian Marius Aasen and Spaniard Nil Solans, who took second and third spots, respectively, at the opener in Portugal will be looking to move higher up the podium. Both Vatanen and Solans will contest Rally Warminski this weekend, a small rally in the same region, to finalise their preparations.

Also looking for improvements will be American driver Will Hudson and Belgian Guislain de Mevius - both had been setting good times but retired after accidents in Portugal. Dutch drivers Kevin van Deijne and Mats van den Brand have limited gravel experience and come to Poland for the first time.

Day one of Lotos Rally Poland next Friday features more than 150km of timed stages but no service – only a tyre zone where the crews have the chance to fit new DMACK gravel tyres to their sustainable GEM fuel-powered Ford Fiesta R2s. So there is a greater emphasis on having a problem-free run on the opening day.

Saturday's second leg is closer to the rally base in Mikolajki and includes three tests that are driven twice, while Sunday's final loop is within touching distance of the town.

The gravel stages are very fast, through open countryside, so accurate pacenotes are a must. Surfaces are soft and sandy, and all drivers will use DMACK’s G62 soft compound tyres – a maximum of 16 being available.

Due to its location and proximity to a number of central and Eastern European countries, Poland attracts huge numbers of travelling spectators. However, the event is home from home for the Krakow-based M-Sport team which builds and prepares the identical and all-new Fiesta R2 cars. These are powered by Ford's 1.0 litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, energised by sustainable racing fuel and equipped with the latest lubricants from Morris.

Up for grabs for the overall Trophy winner this year is a lucrative full seven-round series of 2016 WRC 2 competition using a Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5. The contest aims to help provide a cost-effective platform for upcoming drivers to experience the FIA World Rally Championship.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Poland provided some intense competition last year and I’m excited to see how the battle unfurls next week. DMACK tyres perform well and are suited to the soft Polish roads and I’m sure our crews will be up there challenging the other two-wheel-drive classes.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “After so many drivers showed their pace at the first round in Portugal, I think we’re in for another thrilling battle in Poland. Although the conditions are a lot less abrasive and the stages are much kinder on the cars, they are extremely fast. Combine this with what is almost a completely new route and we have a level playing field in which I fully expect a number of competitors to show their true potential.”

Driver Quotes

Marius Aasen from Norway said: “The high speeds in Poland will be a challenge, but I am feeling well prepared. I have been driving with a four-wheel-drive rally car with turbo to get used to the high speed as well as watching on board videos from the stages. We aim to build on the great result we achieved in Portugal, using the same strategy of safe driving. Hopefully we will finish again on the podium with some stage wins.”

Nicolas Amiouni from Lebanon said: “I haven’t had the opportunity to drive since Portugal but I have been training to keep my fitness up. I wasn’t particularly happy with my first result of the trophy and will hopefully have better luck in Poland. I will push to the maximum and see what I can do. If the weather is bad in Poland the roads will become difficult to drive.”

Mats van den Brand from Netherlands said: “In preparation for Rally Poland I’ve been doing simulator training, watching onboard footage and practicing with my navigator on the pacenotes. It’s important for us to improve our pacenotes and not push ourselves too much in Poland. I think we can improve a lot on the last round because I was not happy with the result there. But the competition is great and I’m hoping for a top-three finish on round two.”

Edoardo Bresolin from Italy said: “In preparation for Rally Poland I have been reviewing the onboard footage from Portugal and trying to identify the mistakes we made. My target for Poland is to improve my driving and gain more confidence with the car, which was lacking in Portugal. It will be important to find a good rhythm and stay close with the other competitors.”

Tom Cave from UK said: “Our result in Portugal was the best we could do under the circumstances we faced; so to get our championship back on track, I’m aiming for the win in Poland and score as many stage points as I can. I’ve stepped up my fitness program in preparation and also have a different approach to my diet. Remaining focused in Poland will be key, the stages are a little more forgiving than other events but there are still corners that can catch you out.”

Kevin van Deijne from Netherlands said: “In preparation for Poland I competed in the Vechtdal Rally, finishing eighth overall and first in my class. I have organised a test before the rally and will also be going over some onboard footage to hopefully get some good pacenotes. Rally Poland is totally new to me so those pacenotes need to be accurate. My main goal is to finish in the top-five and consistently improve my result, I hope to set some top three stage times.”

Gus Greensmith from UK said: “Due to education commitments, I’ve had little spare time to prepare for Rally Poland. In the run up to the rally I’ll be focused on my fitness and reviewing recce videos. I’m expecting the stages to be very fast, so having a consistent set of pacenotes will be important. I was pleased, but not happy with the result in Portugal. I couldn’t really push in the opening round so it is vital that I do in Poland. My aim for Rally Poland is very simple, to go for it and see what we can achieve.”

Will Hudson from USA said: “I obviously wasn’t happy with the result in Portugal. Since we retired there my aim in Poland is to finish, to gain experience and hold my focus through the entire event. I’ve had the opportunity to test out the new R200 kit on my R2 and have been doing some karting as well. The surface is sandy in Poland so ruts are going to be a bit of a challenge.”

Ghislain de Mevius from Belgium said: “To retire on the opening round was very disappointing for me, hopefully there will be no misunderstanding with the pacenotes in Poland. The aim is to finish the rally and achieve a podium place if possible. I remember the stages rutted up quite badly last year so that will be tricky, but the fast roads will be fun and I look forward to a better result in round two.”

Nil Solans from Spain said: “It was really interesting to finish Rally Portugal on the podium and take those points for the championship. I hope we can maintain a top-three position overall after Poland. I want to be faster there than I was last year and build on the experience I gained in 2014. We will be competing in Rally Warminski as a warm up for the next round.”

Max Vatanen from Finland said: “Finishing first in Portugal made me very happy but we have to keep our heads cool and work even harder to maintain our lead in the remaining rounds. We have been reviewing the performance in Portugal and identifying areas for improvement as well as doing some small tests to maintain momentum. We will also do a test in the Mikolaiki area as well as competing in Rally Warminski. My ambition is to win in Poland and take some valuable points to extend our lead in the championship before Finland.”

Lotos Rally Poland Info

Based: Mikołajki, Poland
Ceremonial start: 16.00 Thursday 2 July
Finish: 14.00 Sunday 5 July
Stages: 19 stages, 313.53km
Longest stage: SS5/7 Stanczyki 39.12km
Surface: Soft gravel
Tyres: DMACK DMG2 compound G62, maximum 16 tyres permitted

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy standings after round one

1. Max Vatanen / Jacques-Julien Renucci 31
2. Marius Aasen / Veronica Engan 21
3. Nil Solans / Miquel Ibańez 15
4. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 13
5. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson 12
6. Kevin van Deijne / Harmen Scholtalbers 8
7. Mats van den Brand / Martijn Wydaeghe 6
8. Edoardo Bresolin / Rudy Pollet 4
9. Nicolas Amiouni / Joseph Matar 2
10. Will Hudson / Alex Gelsomino 0
11. Ghislain de Mévius / Geoffrey Brion 0


Vatanen Aims To Maintain Pole In DMACK Fiesta Trophy

DMACK Fiesta Trophy News 2015-06

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