Estonia’s Sander Pärn delivered a stunning display of driving at Rally Poland this weekend to secure his second consecutive win on round two of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Guided by co-driver James Morgan from Wales, 22-year-old Pärn was fastest on nine of the 21 gravel stages to win by 30 seconds and extend his championship lead to 19 points.
In a repeat result of the opening round at Rally Portugal in April, Brits Tom Cave and Craig Parry finished in runner-up position, setting four quickest times along the way. Spaniards Yeray Lemes and Rogelio Penate completed the podium places to edge into third in the overall Trophy standings.
The feeder series to the FIA World Rally Championship continued its theme of close competition with seven of the 12 drivers claiming fastest times over the weekend. When the rally burst into life on Thursday afternoon, Frenchman Quentin Gilbert moved into the early lead, finishing just 0.4 seconds ahead of Pärn. However, Gilbert’s rally ended in retirement after crashing his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R2 heavily into a tree on stage six.
Spain’s José Suárez had held third position for most of the event but he eventually retired with a broken engine after a pace-note error saw him roll off the road on stage 14, causing extensive damage to the car. In a bizarre twist, Marius Aasen, the next competitor on the road, collided with Suárez as he rejoined the track, with Aasen then sidelined after breaking his front suspension.
Finn Max Vatanen had a consistent and trouble-free rally as he cruised to fourth place – topping the times on two stages along the way. Local driver Szymon Kornicki, competing on his home round of the WRC, used his knowledge of the Polish roads to steadily up his pace and finish fifth. Nicolas Amiouni from Lebanon came home in sixth with Nil Solans seventh and Aasen eventually eighth. Leo Urlichich and Ghislain de Mevius both retired after a number of problems.
In contrast to the technically demanding and abrasive stages of Rally Portugal, this weekend’s event saw competitors race across smooth and soft gravel roads around Mikołajki in the north of Poland. But the sandy roads brought their own challenges and, when the rally trekked across the border into Lithuania on Friday, two stages were cancelled when the deeply rutted roads were considered too rough to safely compete on.
The stages through the Polish countryside are renowned for their high speeds and high-commitment corners. Drivers needed to have precise pace-notes to carry speed through corners and onto the long straights while DMACK’s gravel tyre delivered the performance and puncture resistance to safely negotiate the rutted roads.
While the drivers raced using identical Fiestas built and maintained by M-Sport, Rally Poland saw the cars powered by sustainable race fuel, provided by the Trophy’s official partner GEM Fuel, for the first time.
In addition to the main event, four competitors took part in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Shoot Out with Luxembourg’s Hugo Arellano taking the winning spot in the end of year Shoot-Out for a prize drive in a Fiesta R5.