Wednesday | 29 Jul 2015

Vatanen in top shape for Trophy face-off

Title-chasing Max Vatanen has left nothing to chance in his preparations for this week’s Neste Oil Rally Finland as he aims to regain pole position in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.

The Finn topped the points after winning the opening round in Portugal, but slipped two points adrift of Marius Aasen in Poland earlier this month. It is a reverse he plans to rectify on a rally won by father and 1981 world champion Ari on two occasions.

“I have intensified my physical training to be in shape for Finland as well as watching last year’s onboards to remind myself of the conditions. My priority is that a Finn will win this rally so my strategy is to start flat out and increase the pace towards the end,” said 24-year-old Vatanen.

While Vatanen will undoubtedly benefit from home advantage, Norwegian Aasen will not be daunted by the lightning fast gravel roads and roller-coaster jumps as he looks to build upon his maiden Trophy victory in Poland (below).

“I feel very much at home in Finland as the surfaces are so similar to Norway. Poland was a real boost for us and we will try and continue that success. We will stay focused, just thinking about our own pace and have a safe drive,” he said.

Third-placed Tom Cave, 2014 series runner-up, knows he must close the 17-point gap on Aasen.

“Having experience of competing in Finland during the 2014 Trophy will be of great benefit. It’s the best rally of the year and I aim to win, taking as many stage points as possible. Like everyone else I’ll be going flat out. It’s the only way you find a rhythm in Finland,” said Cave.

Ten drivers will tackle the 20 special stages covering 319.38km, all at the wheel of identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars.