MAX VATANEN IS HOPING TO MAINTAIN HIS WINNING MOMENTUM IN THE DMACK FIESTA TROPHY WITH VICTORY AT THE UPCOMING LOTOS 72ND RALLY POLAND (2-5 JULY).
Vatanen, son of 1981 world champion Ari, dominated the trophy's opening round in Portugal, winning half of the 12 stages to take the win by 1min 33.5sec. And as the challenge moves to the high-speed stages of Poland - which have a lot in common with those in his native Finland - the 24-year-old is aiming to extend his series lead.
“Finishing first in Portugal made me very happy but we have to keep our heads cool and work even harder to maintain our lead in the remaining rounds," he said. "We have been reviewing the performance in Portugal and identifying areas for improvement as well as doing some small tests to maintain momentum.
"We will also do a test in the Mikolaiki area as well as competing in Rally Warminski. My ambition is to win in Poland and take some valuable points to extend our lead in the championship before Finland.”
Vatanen will go up against 10 other crews in the drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, each equipped with identical 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta R2 cars - built at M-Sport's Polish factory at Krakow.
Norwegian Marius Aasen and Spaniard Nil Solans, who took second and third spots in Portugal, are expected to be strong challengers this time too. Solans will join Vatanen for a pre-event warm-up at the Rally Warminski this weekend, which runs in the same region as the WRC counter.
Brit's Tom Cave, the 2014 Trophy runner-up, and Gus Greensmith are also expected to do well - the pair fifth and fourth respectively in Portugal. Also looking for improvements will be Will Hudson and Ghislain de Mevius who both retired after accidents in Portugal. Dutch drivers Kevin van Deijne and Mats van den Brand have limited gravel experience and head to Poland for the first time.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Poland provided some intense competition last year and I’m excited to see how the battle unfurls next week. DMACK tyres perform well and are suited to the soft Polish roads and I’m sure our crews will be up there challenging the other two-wheel-drive classes.”