Jon Armstrong has vowed not to become carried away by the blistering pace of Neste Rally Finland (28 - 31 July) next week as he chases points and prizes in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.
The Northern Ireland driver scored his maiden Trophy victory in Poland earlier this month. Now he can secure two prize drives in next season’s WRC 2 series as well as move to the head of the standings with a similar result on Finland’s super-fast roller-coaster gravel roads.
The prize drives are awarded to the top scoring performer in Poland and Finland combined, and the 21-year-old (above) knows he must blend shrewd tactics with the speed required to be successful on a rally affectionately known by locals as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’.
“The main challenge in Finland will be getting our lines right over the crests and jumps and to make accurate pace notes. We are in a good position for the next prize drives now, but we need to have a smart approach and not go flat out from the start,” he said.
Armstrong, making his Finnish debut, is six points behind Welshman Osian Pryce in the Trophy standings. Fellow debutant Pryce has already secured similar prize drives after a first round win in Portugal was followed by second in Poland, and he could net two more if Armstrong slips up.
“I’ve stepped up my preparation for Finland as it’s a new rally for me and most other competitors, so I’ve been trying to seek as much help and advice from those who have been successful there in the past to give us the edge,” Pryce (below) explained.
Hoping to use local experience to outpace both is Max Vatanen. The Finn, third in the points, will start his home rally for a third time while other contenders for podium places include Portugal’s Bernardo Sousa and Briton Gus Greensmith.
Nine drivers start the four-day rally, all at the wheel of identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars.