Salou (Sunday) – Estonian Sander Pärn (22) and Welsh co-driver James Morgan (23) have been crowned 2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy winners on the series finale at Rally de España today. Holding a strong lead after winning the opening three rounds of the series, the pair put in a measured drive to secure the title with a 19-point advantage. Their reward is the biggest prize in world rallying – a seven-round programme in the 2015 FIA WRC 2 championship driving a Ford Fiesta R5, run by M-Sport.
Pärn had taken a 29-point advantage into the final round which championship rivals Tom Cave, winner last time out in Germany, were unable to overhaul. The Welsh driver led for much of the mixed-surface event after Pärn lost a minute on Friday when he was caught behind a slower competitor. Cave was forced to push hard for the additional points awarded for stage victories but he slid off the road this morning, lost three minutes and dropped back to second. That left local ace Nil Solans to take a well-deserved victory on their home event. Solans (22) used his home advantage to good effect, setting a raft of competitive times including his first-ever fastest stage time on Friday. When the rally switched to asphalt he upped the pace to take his maiden win by two minutes and two seconds from Cave.
After his stage win on the opening super special stage in Barcelona on Thursday night with tens of thousands of spectators, Frenchman Quentin Gilbert was the early pacesetter on Friday’s gravel stages winning all the morning’s tests and opening up an early 28-second lead. However, his perfect start soon came to a halt when he slid off the road and damaged the suspension on his Ford Fiesta R2 – ending his bid for a maiden victory. Gilbert returned to dominate the time-sheets with 11 stage wins – the extra points helping them secure third overall in the championship. Pole Szymon Kornicki finished third today and collected his first podium in what was easily his best performance of the season. He edged out Max Vatanen by just 1.9 seconds but Vatanen’s finish earned him enough points to secure the hotly-fought Rookie Award and a place in the Shoot Out final to win a one-off drive with a Fiesta R5.
Ghislain de Mevius finished sixth after an event of mixed fortunes while Lebanon’s Nicolas Amiouni returned after crashing out on Friday’s final stage to finish eighth. Leo Urlichich also had his share of problems after retiring when brake issues saw him collide with a bridge but he bounced back to complete the event in ninth.
The 50th anniversary edition of Rally de España was the only dual-surface rally of the season. Saturday’s action comprised a loop of stages closer to the host town of Salou including the whopping 50km Escaladei stage celebrating the rally’s history. Today’s action concluded with 4 stages completing 372.96km contested across 17 competitive stages. Dutch driver Timo van der Marel also secured a place in the end of year Shoot Out after a strong drive saw him top the non-Trophy runners.
It’s been a hugely successful inaugural season for the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. The successful partnership between tyre manufacturer DMACK and M-Sport has resulted in a fiercely-fought series. The concept was to provide a cost-effective entry level into the FIA World Rally Championship, however, the package of identical M-Sport-prepared Fiesta R2 cars, sustainable GEM racing fuel and control DMACK tyres has proved ultra-competitive. At Rally Finland, Pärn powered his way to a remarkable 16th overall – scoring the highest ever WRC finish for a Fiesta R2.
The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will continue in 2015 with an all-new, one-litre turbo engine and information on registrations will be released soon.
The fuel supply was again carried out by GUTTS on behalf of the Trophy’s official partners Abengoa, ePure, Natgasoline, Methanex and the Methanol Institute. GUTTS Chairman Edward Goossens looked back on two successful years in World Rallying: “In 2013 and 2014, 38.070 liters of GEM Fuel has been used as the fuel of choice in the Fiesta R2 young driver categories of the World Rally Championship resulting in a reduction of a total of 65.817 kg of CO2. That is something to be proud of!” Supported by its partners, Abengoa, Methanex, Natgasoline, e-Pure and the Methanol Institute, and in close cooperation with M-Sport and the FIA GUTTS received approval for the supply of GEM Fuel at the start of the 2013 season. Since then the use of GEM Fuel enabled 24 young drivers to compete over 16.000 kilometers, 4.000 stage kilometers on 234 stages in 10 events and 2 champions were crowned! “We have been instrumental in helping world rallying becoming more environmentally conscious. And we are looking forward to do so in the future,” commented Edward Goossens.