FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC 2015): MAX WINS AGAIN TO GET FIESTA SEASON OFF TO A PERFECT START IN PORTUGAL
WRC DRIVE DMACK CUP WORLD RALLY TEAM
Max wins again to get Fiesta season off to a perfect start in Portugal.
25 May 2015
Max Vatanen, the son of 1981 world rally champion Ari Vatanen, has made it three wins from three starts so far this year, by clinching a commanding victory in the opening round of this year’s Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in Portugal.
Max can add this latest – and most significant – triumph to the class wins he already achieved on Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Rally Serras de Fafe earlier this season, which he contested to prepare for the Fiesta Trophy: the focus of his 2015 campaign, with the prestigious prize drive of a full season in a Ford Fiesta R5 in 2016 on offer to the winner.
Despite being held back by the roughness of the stages on Friday, which took their toll on his car, Max made his advantage really count on the second day, when he stormed to four stage wins out of a possible five.
From that point he was able to control his lead, eventually winning by a minute and a half and bringing back his turbocharged Ford Fiesta R2 unscathed on one of the toughest events in recent memory.
“It was certainly the roughest and most difficult event I’ve ever seen in my career, that’s for sure,” said Max. “The first day was really just a question of getting through it, and that was the only point that I was really worried about. From then on it was a little bit calmer: we had a good pace with no problems, but of course when you are in the lead there is always a bit of stress!”
For the first time, Max was driving the new-specification Fiesta R2 built by M-Sport in England. The car features a revolutionary turbocharged one-litre engine. He was co-driven by former Tour de Corse winner Jacques-Julien Rennucci, who delivered the pace notes to the Finn in French.
“That might sound unusual, but it works well,” added Max. “Jacques-Julien’s experience was so useful in Portugal. In particular, he was able to slow me down on the really rough bits to make sure that we got through. This win really was a team effort, and now I have a lot of confidence for the rest of the year.”
Max finished as top rookie in the Fiesta series last year, which pits 11 talented youngsters against each other on five rounds of the WRC. Now he is aiming for the overall prize, but he is equally determined to keep his feet on the ground.
“There’s a very long way to go and our rivals are really strong,” concluded the 24-year-old, who leads the standings by 10 points. “But I’ve learned a lot from this weekend. Before I was never really sure what the right pace was to drive at: now I have a much clearer idea. And I hope to put those lessons to good use in future.”
Max’s next event will be the all-gravel Rally Poland from July 2-5.
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Photos: André Lavadinho / T-World / Portugal
Categories: Rally Report Magazine Argentina 15 años