Sunday | 24 May 2015

Vatanen victorious at Trophy opener

A familiar name returned to the top step of the WRC podium at Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Sunday when Max Vatanen won the opening round of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.

Twenty-four-year-old Vatanen, son of 1981 world champion Ari, assumed control with four stage victories out of five on Saturday’s second full day. The Finn went on to win six of the 12 gravel tests in the north of the country.

He won by 1min 33.5sec from Norway’s Marius Aasen, with Spain’s Nil Solans almost four minutes back in third. All were driving 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta R2 cars.

“It's such a fantastic feeling to win this rally, it has been a great event for us and everything went to plan. We drove fast when we could and slowed the pace when we had to,” said Vatanen, who won the rookie award in 2014.

Aasen won three stages en route to third with schoolboy Gus Greensmith fourth. Greensmith missed the opening day of recce after sitting an economics exam in England before jetting to Portugal for the rally.

Last year's championship runner-up Tom Cave battled through electrical problems and a double puncture to finish fifth. He claimed three stage victories and headed home Dutchman Kevin van Deijne on his first Trophy appearance.

Will Hudson crashed out on Saturday while Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius was sidelined with a damaged engine.

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