Final Round DMACK Duel For Top Rally Prize

Final Round DMACK Duel For Top Rally Prize

The race to win the biggest prize in rallying reaches an exciting climax next week when the winner of the inaugural Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will be crowned at Rally de España. The fifth and final round of the series will see a head-to-head clash between Estonian Sander Pärn and the UK’s Tom Cave on what’s set to be a thrilling battle for the top spot.

Runaway series leader Pärn and co-driver James Morgan are in the driving seat after winning the first three rounds to lead Cave by 29 points. However, there are 42 points on offer next week, 25 for the overall winner plus an additional 17 for each competitive stage victory. The extra stage points create a number of permutations in the race for the title and could turn out to be a crucial factor next week. Nevertheless, if Pärn finishes third or higher he wins the championship.

The pressure is on Cave and his co-driver Craig Parry. The pair must push to top the time-sheets if they are to stand any chance of turning the tables and lifting the coveted prize of a full seven-round WRC 2 campaign in the DMACK Ford Fiesta R5. It’s Cave’s first attempt at the Spanish stages while Pärn finished on the JWRC podium there last year. The Estonian has won all the gravel rounds this season and Cave has taken victory on the only asphalt event so Spain’s mixed-surface rally really is anyone’s for the taking.

While the top-two battle for the title, a number of drivers are waiting in the wings to steal the limelight and end their season on a high. Frenchman Quentin Gilbert will be out to prove a point. He led in Portugal, was seriously fast in Germany and comes to this event on a high after winning the WRC 2 category at Rallye de France earlier this month.

Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius, another asphalt ace, showed his turn of speed in Germany and is sure to be another driver looking to up his pace on the final event of the season. He’s locked in a battle with Finn Max Vatanen for the Rookie Award but all six rookie drivers are still mathematically in with a chance of the award.

Spain’s Nil Solans will be looking for a home advantage on his local event while Nicolas Amiouni from Lebanon and Poland’s Szymon Kornicki will be aiming to finish off their debut WRC seasons on a high. Leo Urlichich is also hoping to build on his pace after settling down with the same co-driver for the first time this season.

As the only mixed surface rally on the calendar, the 50th running of Rally de España is set to be a thriller. Competitors need to master the event’s legendary circuit-style asphalt roads alongside the rough gravel stages high in the hills of Tarragona. This format means M-Sport’s expert mechanics have the challenge of transforming the GEM Fuel-powered Ford Fiesta R2 cars from gravel to asphalt specification during a specially extended service on Friday evening.

It also means an expanded range of tyres supplied by DMACK. Crews will use the medium compound DMG2 gravel tyre for Friday’s six gravel tests and then have the choice of both dry and wet compounds of it’s DMT-RC asphalt tyre for Saturday and Sunday.

The event is once again based in the holiday town of Salou and bursts into life with a Thursday evening super-special stage around the streets of Barcelona. Friday’s gravel action takes place to the west of Salou with a repeat loop of three stages, including the 35.68km Terra Alta test. Saturday’s stages are based around Falset and feature two runs over the 50km Escaladel stage celebrating the event’s 50th anniversary. Four stages on Sunday complete the rally with the first-ever Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy winner crowned at the finish podium celebrations on the seafront at Salou.

Three private competitors will run alongside the main Trophy runners in a bid to seal a place in the final end of year Shoot-Out to win a one-off WRC drive in a Fiesta R5.

The Main Points

• The final event will decide the winner of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy and the prize drive of seven rounds in next year’s WRC 2 using a Ford Fiesta R5.
• The gap between Sander Pärn and Tom Cave is 29 points; 42 points are on offer in Spain.
• If Pärn finishes third overall or better he is crowned champion.
• It’s Cave’s first time in Spain while Pärn finished third in JWRC there last year.
• Crews will have a choice of three DMACK tyres: dry and wet weather asphalt tyres and a medium compound gravel tyre.
• All six rookie drivers can win the Rookie Award but Ghislain de Mévius and Max Vatanen are favourites.
• There will be a photo and interview opportunity with Pärn and Cave at the M-Sport World Rally Team Happy Hour at 17.15 on Wednesday 22 October.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “It’s been an exciting first year for the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy and we’ve seen some real talent emerge. By offering a huge prize, the series has created some intense competition and I’m looking forward to seeing how the race for the title unfurls next week. For DMACK, it’s encouraging that we can support the next level of WRC stars but also use the series to prove our motorsport products are competitive in the two-wheel-drive class in addition to WRC 2.”

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said: “The first season of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Sport Trophy has been a great success and, as we head to the final round in Spain, Sander Pärn and Tom Cave will battle it out for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport. Seven rounds in a Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 will be awarded to the trophy victor and both drivers are truly deserving of the prize. Needless to say, the eventual winner will have certainly earned the opportunity. An exciting finale awaits what has been a highly successful debut year for the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. We’ve discovered some impressive new talent and I expect the format to go from strength to strength.”

Driver Quotes

Nicolas Amiouni: “Like all rallies this season, my main aim is to gain as much experience as possible and try to get closer to the other guys. I’m looking forward to the mixed surface event, I’ve done one in Cyprus before and it was super fun. As it’s my last WRC event of the season I’m going there to give it my all and make the best of it. The season has gone really quickly and I just hope I can be here again next year.”

Tom Cave: “My plan is always to win but it will be vital that we score as many stage victories as possible to give ourselves the best shot at the title. I’m up for the battle and can’t wait to be back out in the rally car again after our win in Germany. The different surfaces will bring a new challenge and a new factor into our strategy for the event – it will be important that I adjust my driving technique for the Tarmac stages on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve really enjoyed my first season in the WRC and have learnt a great deal, so to have the opportunity to win a drive in a competitive R5 car next year would be incredible.”

Quentin Gilbert: “Our plan for this rally is to try and finish on the podium in the championship. We will aim to win the last event and do as much as possible to get some extra points with stage wins – for us it’s very important to end the season on a good pace for next year. If Tom wants to win the championship then he needs to push hard so it will be a good fight with him. We’ve had a difficult year with some back luck but I believe this series is a great step for young drivers who want to be in the WRC.”

Szymon Kornicki: “My aim for this rally is simple, I just want to drive as fast as I can and have as much fun as possible. It will be my first rally on both surfaces so it will be a little different to adapt. It’s a new experience and I can’t wait to start. It’s the first time again on these stages in Spain but we will try and find a good pace. It should be a positive week as all throughout this season we’ve had a good performance and a great adventure.”

Ghislain de Mévius: “This is the last rally in the championship so of course I want to end the season in a good way. I think I will be on the pace on asphalt so if I manage to not lose too much time on the first day then it could be possible to challenge for a podium. The only real difficulty with the rally will be to find a way to be smooth with gravel tyres on the asphalt sections on Friday. This is my first time in Spain so let’s see how things go.”

Sander Pärn: “My approach will be to drive exactly as fast as I need to in order to take the championship win. We will monitor how Tom goes and react to that. Like all rallies this year, we won’t push too much at the start but try to build up the speed. Rally Spain is a nice, enjoyable event and the mixed surface makes it special – it’s my second favourite rally after Finland. Winning the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy would mean a huge amount to me. It's the best prize in rallying and it offers a young driver the chance to drive in the WRC 2 with a competitive car and a very professional team. It's a dream prize for any driver who has his sights set on a future in the WRC.”

Nil Solans: “This is our home rally so I want to try and use the local advantage to push for a strong result. To be a good rally driver you need to be fast on both surfaces so I think having both asphalt and gravel roads here is a good idea. I competed here last year but there are over 100km of new roads, however, we did a small rally last weekend to get up to speed. This year for me has been about the experience and we’ve picked up a lot.”

Leo Urlichich: “Spain is going to be the only rally this season where I start with the same co-driver. So perhaps we'll finally have a chance to start improving our rapport in the car. Rallying is all about the challenge and the variables, and the mixed-surface stages only add to that – I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had a lot of bad luck this season but it’s still an amazing feeling to break through to the WRC and work with a team as supportive as M-Sport.”

Max Vatanen: “We have a battle with Ghislain de Mévius and my aim is to finish ahead of him in the championship and top the Rookie Award. He will be faster on Tarmac but hopefully I can pull it back on the gravel stages – but still I haven’t driven on gravel since Rally Finland. We will be doing a lot of pacenote practice on similar roads over this weekend and then a test on Monday. This preparation should help give us the best possible chance.”


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