Sander Pärn scores hat-trick in Rally Finland after heroic battle

Jyväskylä (Sunday) – After a heroic battle for honours in the fast and furious WRC Rally Finland 8 out of 11 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy teams that started the rally on Thursday reached the finish in Jyväskylä this afternoon. Estonian Sander Pärn scored a hat-trick with his third consecutive win after already been unbeatable in Portugal and Poland earlier this year.

The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy saw many different leaders. It all started Thursday afternoon when 11 Fiesta’s took the start; Canadian Leo Urlichich and his new British co-driver Darren Garrod were forced to retire early, following an injury sustained by Garrod during that morning’s pre-event test. Local hero Max Vatanen took an early lead. He was soon followed by José Suárez, but Vatanen regained first position and was the overnight leader.

Friday saw the second day of action in Rally Finland. British driver Tom Cave showed an impressive run of form, posting quickest times on three of the four stages held in the morning. Cave took an overall lead 14.6sec into the afternoon repeat loop of stages. Norwegian driver Marius Aasen was second with +14.6 and Estonia’s Sander Pärn just 0.1sec behind. Max Vatanen struggled to hold on to his position, gradually dropping down the rankings to finish fourth overall at the midday service park halt. Quentin Gilbert of France posted his first fastest time on stage eight, denying Cave a clean sweep of stage wins. Friday afternoon Tom Cave managed to hold on to his leading position, with Sander Pärn moving into second position after a strong drive during this afternoon’s competitive stages, with Marius Aasen in third.

With the bit between his teeth, Estonia’s Sander Pärn came charging out the gates on the third morning. With only 20secs to make up, the current Trophy leader caught a touch of luck when overnight leader Tom Cave dropped 18sec when he was forced to overtake the car in front, which was struggling with a puncture. By the end of SS15 Pärn was ahead, leading Cave by 6.6sec. With his confidence high, Pärn took four wins from the five opening stages on Saturday. French driver Quentin Gilbert took his fourth stage win and moved up to third. The difficult conditions proved problematic for Tom Cave when he damaged his suspension and was unable to continue that day. José Suárez’s difficult rally came to a dramatic and early close when he rolled his R2 Fiesta just 300m past the point where Cave stopped earlier. With Caves early exit, the pressure on overall leader Pärn reduced, with the Estonians nearest competition over three minutes behind. Subsequently Pärn eased off the pace, sacrificing any potential stage points for the security of finishing the stages safely.

On the last day of the rally Sander Pärn easily maintained the lead and thus claimed his third consecutive victory (after Portugal and Poland). The Estonian driver is in a comfortable lead, since runner-up Tom Cave only finished in 6th position in Finland. Behind Pärn French driver Quentin Gilbert did remarkably well gaining confidence throughout the event which resulted in second place at the finish and jumping from the last position in the championship standings up to 5th place. Yeray Lemes (Spain) was pleased with his third place – he is now just 5 points adrift from Tom Cave in third place.

Edward Goossens, GUTTS Chairman, was again pleased with the CO2 reduction achieved by the crews using GEM Fuel, as provided by the Trophy’s official partners Abengoa, ePure, Natgasoline, Methanex and the Methanol Institute: “The 11 M-Sport-prepared Fiestas were again powered by GEM Fuel and used in total 3,800 litres of the sustainable fuel, thus saving almost 6,000 kgs of CO2. And they are not any slower than any of the competitors as Sander Pärn shows finishing in 16th place overall. The skill of our top drivers is shown here as they are setting faster times than some of the more powerful vehicles in the WRC3 category!”