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Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Promises Battles In Poland
Posted by: newsla on Jun 20, 2014 - 04:26 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Promises Battles In Poland

After an ultra-competitive opening round at Portugal in April, the battle for honours in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy is set to hot-up when the series heads to round two in Poland next week. When the new Trophy kicked off on the technically abrasive roads at Rally de Portugal, five different drivers topped the overall standings during the three-day event before Estonian Sander Pärn snatched victory on the very last loop of stages.


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But, as Lotos Rally Poland hasn’t featured on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar since 2009, the crews’ relative lack of experience puts everyone on a much more level playing field and some serious competition is expected in Mikołajki.

Two drivers, however, have an obvious advantage. Runner-up on the opening round, British driver Tom Cave tackled Rally Poland in 2009 and set a series of fastest stage times in his Ford Fiesta ST. Local driver Szymon Kornicki is also likely to benefit from a home advantage with his experience of the Polish roads and support from the hoards of home fans expected to turn out next weekend.

However, there are many other competitors who can’t be discounted. Frenchman Quentin Gilbert also led for a spell in Portugal and his current WRC 2 campaign will ensure he’s fully up to speed. The high-speed stages in Poland will also suit Max Vatanen from Finland and Norway’s Marius Aasen while the three Spanish drivers, José Suárez, Yeray Lemes and Nil Solans could also spring a surprise.

Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius will be hoping for a strong haul of points to back up his third place podium in Portugal while two new co-drivers will take part in the Trophy for the first time. Joseph Matar joins Nicolas Amiouni in an all-Lebanese partnership and Irish driver Darragh Mullen makes his WRC debut alongside Canada’s Leo Urlichich.

The Rally Poland stages are set to challenge the entire field. The high speeds and super fast roads mean accurate pace-notes will be vital. Most of the surfaces are pretty soft and sandy, and are expected to rut significantly for the second pass. To cope with the conditions, competitors will use DMACK’s medium compound gravel tyre with a maximum of 14 available over the weekend. It’s also the first round where cars will be powered by sustainable race fuel provided by the Trophy’s official partner GEM Fuel.

While the majority of the 24 competitive stages take place to the north-east of host town Mikołajki in the picturesque Masurian Lake District, Friday’s action will see crews trek across the border for two loops of two stages in Lithuania separated by a remote service.

Poland is also a home event for the M-Sport team which prepares and runs the identical Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars used in the Trophy. Each one has been re-prepped after Portugal at the team’s workshops in Krakow and drivers will give them a final shake down on Thursday morning.

While the 12 crews battle it out for the ultimate prize of a full season in the 2015 WRC 2 championship using a Fiesta R5, DMACK and M-Sport have also added two new awards to this year’s package. Competitors who had taken part in a maximum of two WRC events before the start of the season will be eligible for the Rookie Award – with the winner at the end of the year going forward to the season-ending Shoot Out to win a one-off WRC 2 outing in 2015.

They will be joined by one winning crew from the Drive DMACK Fiesta Shoot-Out on each of the five Trophy rounds – an extension of the main series which allows drivers to compete alongside the championship regulars with their own cars and a subsidised entry and tyre package.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “I’m expecting Rally Poland to be pretty competitive. Everyone has an event under their belt to settle in and the conditions in Poland should be easier on the cars and provide the foundations for some close battles. The softer road conditions should suit DMACK but competitors will need to be careful on the second pass, with rutted roads increasing the potential for sharp rocks.”

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said: “Following the close-fought competition that we saw in Portugal, I’m sure that we’ll see more of the same next weekend. We have a very determined group of talented crews and there will be a number of drivers looking towards victory in Poland. This will be a new event for most of the competitors. Offering something much closer to a level playing field, the crews will be able to judge where they are and where they need to make improvements.”

Lotos Rally Poland Info
Based: Mikołajki, Poland
Ceremonial start: 15.30 Thursday 26 June
Finish: 14.00 Sunday 29 June
Stages: 24 stages, 362.48km
Longest stage: SS14/19 Goldap 35.17km
Surface: Soft gravel
Tyres: DMACK DMG2 compound G42, maximum 14 tyres permitted

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy standings after round 1
1. Sander Pärn / James Morgan 25
2. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 18
3. José Suárez / Pablo Marcos 17
4. Ghislain de Mévius / Johan Jalet 15
5. Yeray Lemes / Rogelio Penate 14
6. Marius Aasen / Marlene Engan 8
7. Szymon Kornicki / Przemyslaw Mazur 8
8. Leo Urlichich / Andrew Roughead 4
9. Max Vatanen / Mikko Lukka 2
10. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul 1
11. Nil Solans / Miquel Ibanez 0
12. Nicolas Amiouni / Carlos de Barrio 0

Driver Quotes

Marius Aasen: “My aim in Poland is to finish the rally without any problems at all. I know we have the speed to win rallies, but we will focus on not taking any chances. I have never been driving in Poland before, so I don’t know any of the stages – but I’m sure we will enjoy the stages and I hope we will quickly adapt to this type of roads. We will drive a rally in Norway the weekend before, so I hope to be well prepared.”

Nicolas Amiouni: “The aim is to finish the rally and accumulate experience with this car and on gravel. Although Portugal didn’t go as planned, I hope I will get to the finish in Poland and improve my pace throughout the event. Being last on the road for sure will be challenging because of the deep ruts but I’m currently here in Poland testing on similar roads. I switched co-drivers because of Carlos’ back injury. Joseph and I have competed together previously in Cyprus, France and Jordan so we are looking forward to the new challenge.”

Tom Cave: “Poland is very unique, I competed back in 2009 so that gives me a good idea of what preparation needs to be done going into the recce. The stages are really nice to drive, they will reward drivers who are brave and committed. I want to win but I’m under no illusion how hard that will be. I’d like to come away from Poland leading the championship as that will give me a good confidence boost going into Finland next month. I’ve competed a lot in Latvia and Lithuania before where the conditions are similar so I’m hoping that experience will really help.”

Quentin Gilbert: “With our bad result in Portugal we must take maximum points to get back into the title race, so we will do everything we can to win Rally Poland. It’s good that the rally is new to everyone, it's good for the sport because it is never easy to compete against drivers who have already competed on a rally several times before. The experience gained in recent rallies with the R5 will help me, not necessarily technically, because they are two completely different cars but the feeling behind the wheel, the feeling of speed.”

Yeray Lemes: “I got some good points in Portugal but we need to aim for another strong result in Poland to try and move up the championship table. I like the challenge of a new event and we showed on the first round that the pace is there. With a new rally like Poland, experience of the Fiesta R2 will be important on the fast stages so I think we have a good chance for a top finish.”

Szymon Kornicki: “Poland will be a bit difficult. It’s my home rally and my friends and family are expecting me to be better but the competition is still very hard. I'll try to drive as fast as I can but not as much as I did in Portugal. I need to push but still be on the safe side. I can go into the rally having some experience of the surface but there are a few drivers from other local countries who will know what to expect. To compete on my home rally is a great pleasure and I’m looking forward to taking part in a World Rally Championship round in my own country.”

Ghislain de Mévius: “I’m looking forward to getting back to the Trophy after a long break from Portugal. We tested last week in Poland and things went very well and gave me some confidence for the race. Sure the third place in Portugal was an amazing result for me for my first WRC event but still I need to improve the pace. On my side, I want to reduce the gap to the fastest drivers but still keep the safe approach I used in Portugal by doing no mistakes and having a clever race.”

Sander Pärn: “The victory in Portugal was like a gift for me because I didn't expect to win there. I haven't been rallying in Poland before so it will be quite new and interesting challenge for me. In addition it will be a challenge to drive fast and at the same time not to damage the car in the ruts that we will face there. In spite of this, I think I will enjoy the conditions in Poland as they are similar to Estonia, roads are fast and the surface is soft. Between Rally Portugal and Rally Poland I have driven two Estonian Championship rallies and done some tests – so that has helped to develop the partnership with my new co-driver James Morgan during these events.”

Nil Solans: “I have a Spanish national championship rally where I will use my own Ford Fiesta R2 to prepare for Poland. I think it’s good to have a new rally for everyone because we will see how fast drivers can go without the experience. Basically, I want to finish the rally and take more experience, but it would be great if we can finish in the top-three. I’m learning a lot of things, but the most important one is that it’s not just the fastest guy who will win a championship, you have to be fast, reliable and you need a lot of experience.”

José Suárez: “I will contest Rally Warminski, which takes place this weekend, in a Fiesta R2 as a test for Poland. I welcome new rallies as I like to discover new stages, and I feel good in new stages with only two passes on the recce. In Portugal our pace and speed was good, but it was just a little mistake which meant we weren’t able to take the win. In Poland our idea is to try and have the same pace and speed as Portugal but without any mistakes or problems. But also I need to focus and catch good points for the championship.”

Leo Urlichich: “I’ve got a new co-driver so a lot of the preparation has been working together with recce practice and bringing him up to speed with my pace-note system. The stage roads seem to be very high speed and, compared to what we encountered in Portugal, not so technical. So I’m looking forward to learning how to drive the Fiesta R2 on this type of roads. We weren’t able to do any testing since Portugal, so as much as I would have loved to push, I must take it easy and get the experience. The competition is very strong. Our best gauge will be Nicolas Amiouni who is the only other driver without prior front wheel drive experience.”

Max Vatanen: “My plan is to put my foot down and drive on the limit as much as it allows, but sometimes that can increase your chances of making a mistake. In Portugal so many people made mistakes, and I can't afford to make any more. The roads in Finland are very similar with the surface and the fact they are fast so I’m hoping to be a bit more familiar with the surface and conditions. In Poland all of us will more or less be in the same boat in terms of experience so that will be interesting.”

PaddockTalk Perspective

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